Saturday, May 18, 2013


My first year of teaching is winding its way to an end, and as I look back, I'm proud of a lot of it.

I'm proud that my students have made academic growth. I'm proud that one has significantly decreased his "blurt to hand raise" ratio. I'm proud of the relationships that we've built, the lessons we've learned together, and, after this crazy week, pretty proud that I survived the year.

I'm not proud of everything, though, not by a long shot, and about a week and a half ago I got a reminder that no matter how well things are going, we all do things we aren't proud of.

Let me set the scene for you: Fifth grade. End of the school year. My math class, which has never been known for its excellent behavior. A first year teacher who has never been known for her discipline. And not to make excuses, but I was feeling super crappy that day.

These kids would. not. stop. talking. I tried complimenting the well-behaved kids, tried raising my voice, tried "I can't do this for you and you need to take responsibility for your own learning" guilt. Every time I tried to teach, they were back to talking. And I yelled. I didn't just raise my voice. I yelled the way you yell when you are angry at someone. After that, I left the room and I cried.

Somewhere in the minute or so that I was out of the room, I remembered that they're 10 and I'm 23. And I went back in and taught math. They made me a card from construction paper that said "Sorry we were so loud" on the outside and "You are the best" on the inside. They all signed it.

So, now I have this yellow card in my bag, and I'm going to go ahead and hold onto it to remind me that I made it through this year- the proud moments and the not-so-proud ones all together.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Robins and Blue Jays

A friend of mine from high school recently "pinned" this picture on her Pinterest:

I found it interesting, because as a special education teacher, my reaction to a "slow" reader asking to read is a little more like this:

I've been giving the Borat thumbs-up quite a bit in the past couple of weeks. I'm a co-teacher, which means I "push-in" (in my case, all day) to a regular education class to serve my special education students. Recently, I started pulling out a small group of kids for about 40 minutes a day to give them some more direct instruction in reading strategies and read a novel together. I thought they might resist a little since it makes them look different from the rest of the class, but I was totally wrong. They ask me allllll morning long when we're going to "that reading thing." They listen while we read, (thank you, Class Dojo) answer comprehension questions, and remember the strategies we talk about. It's a miracle.

Here's the best part, and the part that ties into the memes I opened with. These little darlings actually FIGHT over who gets to read aloud when we work on our novel. Sentences truly overheard in our classroom this week:

"But she got to read TWO pages already! That's so unfair!"

"I didn't get to read yet! I raised my hand quietly!"

"I don't want that page! It's too short!"

And why does whining about wanting to read warm my heart so much? I have the 7 lowest performing readers in the class in this small group. I have a little boy who, at the beginning of the year, told me he hated reading aloud because he sounded like a kindergartener. I have two girls for whom English is a second language. I have 3 boys with learning disabilities and one who won't read in the regular classroom without trying to use a funny accent. They skip lines, they leave out words, they mispronounce words. And then- they correct each other. They show each other the right line. They explain the things their friends don't understand.

Truly, those are the best 40 minutes of my day, and I don't care if they read 5 words a minute. I couldn't be prouder.