Monday, September 12, 2011

A Week Full of Surprises (AKA The L-o-n-g-e-s-t Post Ever!)

Even though this past week was only a three-day week of school, it was quite a whirlwind!  Here’s a little re-cap of how it all went down:
My day started with having to track down all the teachers I emailed the night before because our email system was down.  After my long scavenger hunt, I met with the first grade team and the principals for one of the most important data meetings of the year.  We analyzed students reading scores and behaviors and then used this data to place them into reading groups where all their needs will be met (then did the same for 2nd and 4th grade).  My groups could only be a maximum of 16 kids each due to space restrictions (ie. my conference room/”classroom”), so trying to place the right kids in my class was quite the challenge.  After dividing the students, I had a pretty good idea on what groups I would have and what programs I would be using to teach them.  However, shortly afterwards, we realized we forgot to account for some teachers who were available to teach during this time who weren’t able to attend the meetings, so we had to do even more dividing and shuffling.  My groups and reading programs were once again up in the air. 
As if that wasn’t enough to stress about… I had gotten bit by what I thought was a spider over the weekend and had a nasty swollen bump on my elbow.  It was continuing to swell and was hot to the touch, so I decided a trip to urgent care was in order.  It was the end of the school day when I finally discovered our email was back up and running.  I decided to quickly check my email before heading out to urgent care (I know- priorities… haha).  I stumbled upon an email from a colleague of mine explaining that she was unable to attend the mandatory induction seminar/training after school due to a family emergency.  Looking up at the clock in my room, I realized I was going to be late, sprinted out of the school, and drove pedal to the metal all the way there, arriving just “casually late.”  While there, my arm started to hurt worse, but I had to be there in order to fulfill my induction requirements, so I just sucked it up.  The training lasted much longer than expected, and in my furious frenzy of rushing out of the school, I realized that I left my teacher bag in my classroom (uh-oh!).  Needless to say, I had to turn around and make an extra trip back to school only to then arrive at urgent care just 5 minutes before it closed (talk about good timing!).
Luckily, the doctors were still willing to see me.  I was their last patient, but had 3 people ahead of me.  Little did I know that one of those 3 was a laceration which took a lot of time and a lot of screaming.  L I was eventually brought back into the triage room, where a nurse assessed the damage on my arm.  I was told that my “spider bite” was probably from a brown recluse spider and that the affected skin was probably going to turn black and die so I’d probably need a tetanus shot (but not to worry, it could’ve been a more poisonous spider and I could’ve died instantly – now that’s some real comforting information – NOT!).  I was then brought back to an examination room where I waited for 2 hours before finally being attended to (and I thought an hour at the DMV was bad- yeah right!).  The doctor finally came in and assessed my “spider bite” for about 5 minutes only to determine that he thought it was a staph infection (now I don’t know which is worse, a staph infection or a brown recluse spider bite? – knowing how quickly these both can spread, I’d have to say it’s a tie at this point).   I was given a prescription for antibiotics and scheduled a follow-up appointment for the next day to make sure that the infection wasn’t spreading and that my body was not resisting the antibiotics (basically checking to make sure that my arm wasn’t going to fall off – ha.). 
At this point, I was feeling super stressed out about life, but I knew that if I had a little faith, everything would be okay.  And it was!  J Thank you to all of you who care so much about me.  I love you all! 
After figuring out I needed to take a half-day off to attend my follow-up appointment, I couldn’t log into Subfinder.  For some reason (I think it’s because I’m a new employee) I can’t log onto anything!  It’s driving me crazy! I spend much of my free time chatting it up with my wonderful technical support friends on the other end of the phone line so that I can get logged into all of my accounts that I’ve been denied access to.  This time, the person I had to call did not answer the phone.  So I was left in a moment of panic – what to do?  I didn’t actually need a sub, but I had to find some way to document that I wasn’t going to be there.  What I decided to do was to drive all the way to my school (a good 20 minutes from my apartment) and talk to everyone there that I needed to talk to and get permission to leave for the morning.  So I did, but found out that they couldn’t help me out with Subfinder either.  Anyways… they gave me permission to leave for the morning and sent me on my way back to urgent care.
And guess what… even though I had a scheduled appointment, it took me an hour and a half to finally be visited by the doctor.  It was a different doctor this time, but I described my symptoms and my reaction to the antibiotics that I was given (the swelling around my arm was going down – hooray!).  I told him that it still felt like there was a lot of pressure and warmth and redness and pain, so he decided that it might be a good option to “drain” it.  ~Caution – it gets a little more graphic if you continue reading beyond this point. ~ He sprayed some freeze stuff on and around the infected area, then proceeded to poke it a few times with a needle.  I’m not sure how well that freeze spray worked, because I sure felt it!  Once that needle hit me, I was in excruciating pain – I held my breath and bit my lip so I wouldn’t scream.  Thank goodness it was short-lived!  He then bandaged me up, told me to keep taking my antibiotics and to continue to monitor the size of my infection, and sent me on my way. 
Here’s a “quick” summary of the rest of my day…
I arrived back to school at noon, made a long to-do list of all the things I needed to get done before Friday (I wrote the majority of this at the doctor’s office for the 1.5 hours I was waiting…), went on a scavenger hunt to try to find the materials I would need to teach each of my reading groups (after finding out what groups I would be teaching and what programs I would be using), realized I was short by 6 chairs in my classroom, proctored a standardized test, observed a reading group with one of the programs I was going to be implementing, double-booked an after-school meeting with a reading training and decided to attend the training instead, was completely overwhelmed by the amazing stuff you can do with the program presented in the training, but saddened by the lack of resources I have to make it work really well for 2nd graders, continued working on my to-do list, eventually turned my to-do list into a to-done list, and finally made it out of the school by 8:07pm (now that’s a run-on sentence if I’ve ever seen one).  Even though the exhaustion set in as soon as I got home, my arm was throbbing, and I still had to plan for my first day with my groups, I couldn’t wait to teach!  Friday would be my first real teaching experience as a certified teacher – how exhilarating!   
I survived my first day of teaching!  What a whirlwind – getting kids from their teachers, to their teachers, making sure they were in the correct line, getting students back to their classroom on time, meeting my other groups on time, getting a full week’s workout in a day... Oh what a day it has been!  I LOVE all my kids.  They’re a great bunch!  I have a few shy students and a few real talkative ones making for an interesting mix, but I absolutely adore each and every one of them!  It is going to be a FANTASTIC year!!!! 
I’ve still been feeling extremely overwhelmed… I stayed at school until 5 (on a Friday), but I guess that beats my 8 o’clock night the night before.  I was just informed of what programs I will be using to teach each group and have been trying to catch up by reading what information I have on them, but I really don’t know where the resources are or even know which ones I’m supposed to be using. For the first couple days I see each group, my plan was to go over rules and expectations.  Then I would begin teaching the “normal stuff” once we finished with these essentials. 
I am also realizing how short my time is with each group!  I see each group for 40-50 minutes (besides a first grade group which I see for a straight 90 minutes).  During this block of time I have to pick up the kids from their grade-level hallway, wait for any kids that are let out late from their class, walk to my classroom, teach my lesson, walk the kids back to their grade level hallway, supervise the ones who are waiting to enter their homeroom classrooms until their teacher finishes his/her lesson, and then run to a different hallway to get my next group (and repeat).  I feel like I only have 30-40 minutes to teach what I need to teach, which does not seem long enough to get much accomplished.  I’m hoping that with a little help from the classroom teachers we can figure out a good system that will begin working within the next few days and will run smoothly for the rest of the year!
Trying to figure out what materials the kids need to bring is another issue.  Different teachers want their kids to bring different things or think that I already have all the materials (which I don’t), so it makes it really hard to teach – especially when the kids are worried about not having the right supplies or want to go put their stuff back in their classrooms.  I think this is another thing I’m going to have to work out with the classroom teachers for each grade.  I just feel like I’m spread so thin – working with 4 different grade level teams (18 different teachers to be exact! Plus the other interventionists, coaches, and principals), having 4 brand-new reading programs to learn and implement in my teaching, and only having a super-short amount of time to do it in.  I want my kids to be successful and I want to help them make huge strides with their reading, but I’m struggling with how to make it all work. 
I don’t even know where to begin with room organization.  There is absolutely no space- zip, zero, zilch!  It was near impossible to fit all 16 kiddos in each group in that room.  I’m trying to arrange it so there is some floor space and so they can sit at their desks.  We have a mix of big and little chairs and different types of tables (round, hexagon, and rectangular) at different heights.  The fourth graders need the bigger chairs and tables, but when the firsties come in, they look like they are sitting in a giant’s chair with their feet dangling off the floor (too cute, but not the best learning environment).  I was told that I could possibly move my 4th grade group into the cafeteria, but I’m not sure if that’s the best option.  What to do, what to do????  SO much to think about!!!!
At least I’m figuring out all these things within the first week, but any suggestions you have to offer would be greatly appreciated!   J 
P.S.  If you made it to this point, thanks for reading my extremely long post!  I really do appreciate it!  There is just so much to think about, but once I reflect and write about it, I always seem to come up with new ideas.  J 

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