So far this year 

Though this is the best group of kids I’ve had in a long time, they’re still little humans and they’re flawed.  Why can’t you hang a coat, bookbag, sweater on the hook? It’s really not that hard! Augh.  


Jeans passes are back! I will be trendy and wear a #bowtie, but probably won’t tuck my shirt.  

My kiddos are reading! They all could use more work and a deeper appreciation for reading just for reading sake. However, I am not going to front. They’ve taken to all my accelerated reader challenges.  Currently we’re well over our goal for the semester and we’re trying to hit our year goal by December! 

You know that I am loving my coaching sessions @ CFSC this year. When people help you become better at your trade then compliment that they see you growing that’s a good feeling.  Oh and I like Boba Tea! 

So for some reason my class asked if my birthday was October 13th (actually that’s my mom’s birthday) . I, mistakenly thought I had been pretty not subtle about the fact that mine is in April.  None the less two students brought me gifts on my faux birthday! Besides the huge smile that brought me, we had to have a Whitaker’s fake Birthday Party Friday.  Of course the gift givers got the bigger cupcakes and a well deserved laugh. 

A look back at 2015

The 1st part of this school year is almost wrapped up like a present under the tree. I can’t say just how excited I am about getting away and recharging, but I am sure you understand my current state.

Also this marks the end of 2015 a pretty good year over all. As with all years it seems to have just flown by, but a lot happened this year.  I am going to just highlight a few mostly centered around the shaping of young minds.

The Good

  • I have a fantastic group of students.
    • Lots and lots of good kids here. Most want to do well and just need direction and guidance.
  • My co-workers are the BEST!
  • Most of my systems have worked out well…albeit I need some more. Next year I need to have a system for systems.
  • My centers have been on point all year long.
  • The ESOL students have been “getting it”.
  • I’ve had a blast teaching science and social studies this year.
  • I had some awesome student teacher observers. Hope they get a great classroom one day.
  • GROUPME!
  • The support team here is out of this world! Real troopers
  • I am enjoying Marietta City Schools. It’s different from APS and it’s ok.
  • I’ve had some FANTASTIC class visitors this year. Not sure how I can top the Docs coming in to talk about good back health and getting my babies moving.
  • MEAL PREP!
  • BOWTIES!

The Bad

  • I haven’t seen as much progress as I thought we’d have by close of 2015.
  • Cracking the code and helping them WANT to learn has proven to be a much more tricky task than I first thought.
  • I don’t honestly think I get the guided reading/math portion of my day.

The Down Right Silly

I’ve had the best time teaching 1st grade! I’ve had some adventures for sure…

  • The student that didn’t like me because I was “brown”. Oh he was brown as well.
  • My ESOL student that corrects me every time I try to speak Spanish.
  • When I was having a emotional break down over a student leaving my student that consoled me by telling me she’ll do good work, too.
  • The kindergartner who told me she’ll behave in class because she loved me.
  • The student who gave my co-worker a recycled day card that had been given to her, but it was in Spanish.
  • The student that told me that “decomposing numbers” is like when is daddy took the rims off the car.
  • My little guy who refuses to put his shoes on correctly. He even will change them back if I have him change them.

On the non-school related front I had such a great year. Many, many new things happened.

  • I became a better dad and a pretty good husband
  • Started Olympic Lifting and have found a real desire
  • Finally got to my goal body fat
  • Financially, Team Whitaker got on track this year.
  • We’re taking our first REAL vacation this year!  Won’t be our last.
  • I had so much fun with my BGE!
  • I cleaned out my friend stable. Now I feel lighter not carrying around so many extra folk.

I’ll post a pictorial collage later.

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about a great week

This week I made LOTS of head way with  both my English as well as Spanish students.  They all need help, but in different scales to say the least. I had two readers come in this week. (Had to catch up on the fact that I didn’t have one last week)

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So you need to hear your native language as well as English? Well, why don't I bring in an expert to read to you all?

So you need to hear your native language as well as English? Well, why don’t I bring in an expert to read to you all.

Shout out to my mom for coming to read this week!

Shout out to my mom for coming to read this week!

I re designed a color chart to add Spanish and English. Next the Alphabet chart.

I re designed a color chart to add Spanish and English. Next the Alphabet chart.

Welcome to 1st grade's weather wonderland

Welcome to 1st grade’s weather wonderland

Grade level chose Weather as our hallway decoration. I think we did a fantastic job. The kids pitched in a lot and most of all they all loved it.

Yeah, those are

Yeah, those are “almost” real clouds

Please note the rain drops coming down. Get your umbrellas!

That's right. There's a blizzard of vocab words on 1st grade hall.

That’s right. There’s a blizzard of vocab words on 1st grade hall.

Have no fear, we end it all with a rainbow. (There are bowties on the rainbow. Get it...)

Have no fear, we end it all with a rainbow. (There are bowties on the rainbow. Get it…)

What do you do with 100s of paper bowties? Well...

What do you do with 100s of paper bowties? Well…

I think for my birthday I’m going to cover the building in bow ties, just because it’s wrong.

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I wanted to  decorate my “class sign” with a little something special.

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I also spruced up my team’s signs. I wonder how long it will take them to notice this little update.

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We’re spotlighting our math skills this week. We pick a strategy to focus on and try to use it as much as we can. We write  about it, talk about it, use it and most of all learn it.

Many schools use Accelerated Reader, but my school  takes it to another level. We had a kick off to get the kids excited about  AR and earning as many points as possible. The school puts  out a goal a long with a prize. This year they’re having a school wide picnic with all kinds of fun and games. Let’s see how the kids do.

wpid-20150828_133225.jpg Note that Marietta Reads is wearing adidas. This school ROCKS!

The goal is 35,000 points. My class has to earn 1000

The goal is 35,000 points. My class has to earn 1000

The goal is 35,000 each grade/class has a part to contribute. I have to get my students to each earn 66 points. That’s a lofty goal considering everything. We read tons of books each  week, but getting them to stick is going to be tricky. I’ll keep you posted.

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And yes, there were bowties this week as well.

Week 3 is in the books. If this was your 1st or 3rd week, how did it go?

I’m looking for a few guest bloggers. If you’re interested, please let me know.

First full week in review.

This week was OUTSTANDING!

I love this group of kids! I’m so very happy to have come aboard. Now let’s review this week in pics.

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 The 5th grade team thought it would be nice to start everyone’s week with a special card. They were right. That was kinda cool.

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My neighbor who’s a 1st year (Shout out to The Most Beautiful 1st Years in the World, Perry and Davis) and I combined classes to help all our kiddos get the grip on how Number Talks work. Ms. Storie is a great teacher! We had so much fun doing this.

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I like centers a lot. I did an inventory and I found that I have almost 65 handmade centers for 2nd grade. Since I’m in 1st grade and I can’t use 65% of the things I have from last year I guess all I can do is…make more! So expect an explosions of charts soon.

After Centers time I asked my dear, precious ones what kind of educational experience they’d make for a classmate using these random bags of manipulatives. They might only be a few weeks out of Kindergarten, but they’re pretty bight. They had some neat ideas. I will showcase these new centers when we put it together.

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The lunchbox saga has been solved. I scored a great Norchill cooler bag that can hold almost 2 days worth of food along with a 64 ounce growler (The Tank)! That’s a lot of space. Most importantly it keeps stuff cold sitting in my classroom.

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We set some reading goals this week. I know they’re afraid to read, but I am going to get them out of that real quick. I’m looking for a creative way to post these around the class so the kids can check off as they read. Maybe to a class total chart as well. That would be cool. Of course having them read to me, write a book report or read to a Book Buddy.

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Oh, yeah I wore a few bow  ties this week. I think I’m going to give in to the Jeans Friday. Thought I’d be stanch stickler for my tie, but I find myself moving around on the floor, running and doing more now. The tie was to restrictive.

How was your first full week of school?

My new classroom

A new district. New school. New classroom. I’m looking for as many creative storage and decorative ideas as possible, but I’m not going to just pull them from Pinterest. I want this year’s classroom theme to be a darling of Pinterest and be 100% original ideas and content.  I’m expecting others to pin me all over their blogs, social sites and the InterWeb. That’s saying a lot cause my Super Learners themed room still is the most popular view on this humble blog.H

If you are creative and want to throw your hat in on this challenge, please comment. I’d appreciate your insights. Here’s the pallet. Now I need to just be creative.

The door has to be the best door entry I've ever done. Ever.

The door has to be the best door entry I’ve ever done. Ever. It has to SCREAM that we’re all about reading in this room. 

 

This hallway/entrance has to be intense.

This hallway/entrance has to be intense. I’m at the end of the hall, but I want this to be THE destination. I want other kids to say to my students “THAT’S YOUR classroom?” with awe and wonder. 

The room comes with SUPPLIES!

The room comes with SUPPLIES! The room already has lots of good supplies and materials. I just need to organize them. 

I have a lot of ideas for this space. Please know that it won't look like this long.

I have a lot of ideas for this space. Please know that it won’t look like this long. I have a teacher’s desk. You already know how I feel about that. Yuck. 

I need a curtain idea. My theme is going to be "All the things we can read"

I need a curtain idea. My theme is going to be “All the things we can read”

Pretty good storage closet in class

Pretty good storage closet in class. It needs to be organized so Day 1 has a mission already. 

 

Nice size closet.

Nice size closet. My coats, shoes and aprons have a home. Going to keep some other ready to go classroom supplies in here as well. A wide angle shot of the place I'll be calling home in a month.

A wide angle shot of the place I’ll be calling home in a month. So much to do. Check out the blue carpet!

Another angle of the room. Lots can be done with this space.

Another angle of the room. Lots can be done with this space. Did I mention that I have a restroom IN my class? (No reading in there, please!)

So many ideas. So much space.

So many ideas. So much space. This is going to be so much fun. Even better than Super Learners. 

Let’s go ahead and talk about this 2014-2015 school year

This school year’s body isn’t cold yet and I’m ready to start an autopsy. So much to say about this year!

  1.  Off the bat, this year was very, very challenging. There were the usual challenges, yes. There were a lot of others as well that no one saw coming. There were some unique behaviors that really left my gobsmacked. Wow, didn’t see that coming at all.
  2. The Common Core isn’t exactly what I want and I can understand the concerns about it. That being said CCSS makes it very simple to collaborate with teachers all over the country. Couldn’t do that before.
  3. Teachers can be some of the easiest people to work with. They understand the “struggle”. No one is trying to get over on another. We all see the importance of our role. I love my co-workers and my teamies. #MissMrsJonesAlready!
  4. Routines. Routines. Routines.
  5. Complaining about students not following the routines, isn’t teaching the routine.
  6. The more you talk about reviewing the routines as a punishment the more you’re going to have to teach the routines.
  7. Sometimes seeking and getting parents involved is a bad thing. The Helicopter Parent is REAL. But to that point when you have concerned, engaged, useful parents you’ve hit a gold mine.
  8. Turning water into wine was a major miracle.
  9. Do not assume that because you’re doing right/good/going above that people notice.  People will ignore them.
  10. CrossFit saved my sanity more times than I can count. I can not say how thankful I am to be coaching now. I get to fully decompress from the teaching day in a creative and tough way. Thanks Team CFSC!
  11. I need a classroom theme next year. Stay tunded.
  12. My anchor chart system worked like a charm. It’s just that next year I may have a lot less space. So back to the drawing board.
  13. Everyone without a book bag is not unprepared and everyone with book bag is prepared.
  14. A classroom of 17 that sees 9 students come and through the year is going to have a tough time building team.
  15. Meal prep also was spot on. It helped so much with keeping me fed so I didn’t start gnawing on chalk.
  16. Oh, Promethean boards are amazing!
  17. The more kids read on their own the more they understand. Grade level is good, but if they can’t read on grade get them reading in the area of focus on the grade level they can digest.
  18. Read the standards. Know the standards.
  19. Small meaningful projects have a lot of use and give you a lot more bang for your buck.
  20. Paperwork can be managed. I’m not certain I did a perfect job. I know I didn’t do a perfect job with paper work, but I can say I didn’t have a mountain to pass back on the last day either.
  21. Using Journals to capture all the in class work was a great idea. It also worked like charm for homework!  Now to fine tune it.
  22. There is zero reason for me to have a classroom desk what so ever. Not like I ever did, but you get my point.
  23. Get data, use data, get more data.
  24. Class Dojo is still the best thing cooking! I know there are other programs out there, but as a fore runner to those CD is still out pacing them all.
  25. Teachers should become scientists. So much can be done by applying the scientific method to teaching.
  26. People say things to male teachers that, I am confident, they don’t mean.
  27. I have so much fun with my bowtie game. I can’t really explain WHY as much as it just makes me feel like I’m on point. Given that most of the time I’m huddled up in the fetal position wondering why I do this. I need as much confidence as I can muster.
  28. The most challenging student needs love. They need to know that even at the basic level “this person cares about me”. They are going to make it tough, but they need to you to care about them.
  29. They also need some degree of respect. Even when they behavior in the most vile, disrespectful manners. “Going there” with them doesn’t do anything, but solidify that they have to act a certain way to “demand” respect.
  30. I AM STILL WINNING THE PENCIL WAR!

I do have some news I want to post about my teaching career. Most of my family, friends and co-workers know. I am taking a position in another school district closer to my house. I’ve never been apart of my school community. I will NEVER run into my students at the market or out with my children. So to get closer to home and my own kids I’m moving from APS in August. It’s been an enjoyable adventure. Besides all the tissue I’m going to use up on our last teacher day I’m taking some fond, fond memories. Thanks to everyone!

 

24 hours of “what ifs”

Creativity is an area I feel I can build, grow and expand in. I don’t think that I’m horrible, but I don’t think I create stuff like I should. So I’m reading a book on nurturing the creative mind. An activity in the book is asking “what if”. The more ridiculous the better. I sat down for 24 hours and came up with 200 What if scenarios. I have more, but I stopped myself at 24 hours. I then sorted out the absolute insane time travel, flying and invisible ones. Leaving only the ones that could, maybe possibly happen. Then I threw out the ones that were only about me. I was left with those that dealt with a large group of people, my neighborhood, my family. Then I excluded all the ones that I needed A LOT of help to do. Then I said “Stop”. I went back and put them all back in the list. Here’s my little list of my favorite what if questions. I may go back and ask some follow up questions since each of them requires probably 4-5 follow ups.

  • What if we moved out of state?
  • What if we moved out of the country?
  • What if I could meet with a mentor for 1 hour a week?
  • What if we had four kids?
  • What if every house in my neighborhood had a garden?
  • What if we all had solar panels on our houses?
  • What if I get all the really low students this year?
  • What if I get all the really well behaved students this year?
  • What if we read a book in order to be able to watch TV?
  • What if we worked 4 10 hours days?
  • What if we all took off for the Sabbath?
  • What if we could record our dreams?
  • What if the Church was persecuted globally, right now?
  • What if no one tithed?
  • What if everyone did 3 missions trips by the time they were out of college or turned 25?
  • What if every HS student had work experience in 3-4 different areas?
  • What if my entire community composted and recycled?
  • What if we were paid $50 for every lbs of fat lost and $10 for every year we maintained?
  • What if Christians were 100% confident Christ was with them, right now?
  • What if Christians were as passionate against sin as they were politics?
  • What if everyone saved 10% of their income for 5 years?
  • What if I get 100% parent involvement this year?
  • What if I have a class of all girls this year?
  • What if I have a class of all boys this year?
  • What if every time you needed, you could call up a duplicate of yourself to do 60 minutes of work?
  • What if it were harder to get into college?
  • What if college was cheaper?
  • What if it were possible to communicate with other creatures?
  • What if we all rode bikes?
  • What if we were paid for the books we read?
  • What if we jettisoned our trash to the Sun?
  • What if we buried our trash deep in the earth?
  • What if I don’t get any supplies this year?
  • What if I have ZERO parent participation this year?
  • What if we created a ship to filter trash from the sea?
  • What if I did 12 30 day challenges?
  • What if my family/Small Group didn’t have any debt?
  • What if my family(s) moved closer/further?
  • What if I taught in an all white school?
  • What if you had to get a license to have kids?
  • What teachers were able to take off for a year, do another job/career and come back and explain how that year made them better teachers?
  • What if I have NO support this school year?
  • What if we did job swaps?
  • What if food trucks over took brick and mortar establishments?
  • What if food trucks did neighborhood deliveries?
  • What if all abandoned/empty properties were torn down after 2 years of being unoccupied?
  • What if everyone brought their lunch/homecooked for 30 days?
  • What if every family in my community created and lived on a zero based budget?
  • What if I could carpool whenever I wanted to?
  • What if I rode a cab to work everyday?
  • What if healthy, good food was cheaper than processed food?
  • What if certain companies got a tax break to help a city stay neat, clean and orderly?
  • What if Marietta City set a goal to save $ rather than spend?
  • What if woke up 1 hour earlier everyday and worked out?
  • What if we looked for leaders who served rather than those who wanted to be served?
  • What if I went and met all my social media “friends”?
  • What if no one wanted credit for the good done in the world?
  • What if the next 5 years were all we had left?
  • What if we saw ourselves as God does?
  • What if we were all able to live to our 200s?
  • What if churches collected membership dues rather than offerings?
  • What if my neighborhood saw a 25% increave/decrease in income?
  • What if we could really multitask?
  • What if teachers were paid by the hour?
  • What if we all spoke 3 languages from birth?
  • What if we could travel back in time only once?
  • What if we could write our futures?
  • What if Christians became passionate about sharing the Gospel?
  • What if half the human raced lived in space or on the moon?
  • What if we could create hydro electric power AND not disturb the environment?
  • What if we could create an engine to propel a space craft at light speed?
  • What if were possible to transform a desert?
  • What if we could make ourselves faster, thinner, prettier with a pill?
  • What if we stopped trying to do the last one?
  • What if…SELF DRIVING CARS!?
  • What if politicians got paid nothing?
  • What if we knew when we would die?
  • What if we got paid for our mistakes?
  • What if we NEVER forgot?
  • What if all schools went online?
  • What if we had a set % of success and it increased the amount of times we tried?
  • What if we could communicate with our younger and older selves?
  • What if we had a regular Bible study for a month?
  • What if we had to solve a problem before we could complain about one?
  • What if we didn’t have any regrets?
  • What if I found 6 non-crossfitters to agree to CF for 6 months with me?
  • What if all the businesses in Cobb county adopted one homeless person and gave them a job for 1 year?
  • What if my blog started getting 10k reads a day?
  • What if I didn’t send home any homework this year?
  • What if my students did 7 major projects in class and out that were worth their entire grade?
  • What if my small group became a house church?
  • What if we had to be quiet and think for at least 30 minutes but no more than 1 hour a day?

I got some great ideas from this exercise. I know some are whack-a-doodle, but some aren’t that bad. What are your thoughts? Do you have any crazy what if questions to add? Mind you I didn’t include all 200, but I’d like to see/read yours if you have any good ones. Even those not so good ones will be appreciated.

School starts back in 15 days and I have to say that I’m mentally ready. Now I just have to find where my dry cleaning ticket is.

 

A rich blessing

Yard sales used to be my thing. Every blue moon I stop by one. I always look for ones run by teachers.

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I ran across a retiring 2nd grade teacher who was having a HUGE yard sale yesterday. She sold me a lot of good quality stuff. She ended up giving me just as much as I bought. A real bonifide resource for my classroom.  Expect my teaching to go up a level this year. 

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Not only that, but she donated all the remaining stuff to my daughter’s classes. She truly helped our classes big time. She was so kind to my girls.  She loaded them down outstanding stuff, too.

Initially I wasn’t going to go to the sale. But I really felt I should since it was advertised as “retired teacher”.  That’s code for “good stuff”.  Besides it was right by my house.  I wasn’t let down at all. I may even keep her in mind to show me how she did her outstanding organization system. Cause it was great. You never know what you may find when you follow a random sign. 

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Outstanding ties this week.  My wood tie is ruling the roost for sure. 

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Great lessons in my not so obvious summer gig. Opinion writing using 2 versions of “Let it go”. A lot of fun

Ok, I got to go see this Tom Cruise movie. What are you doing this summer?

No goals left behind

I like this time of year, December-February. I enjoy planning, thinking and setting goals for the year. I always set aside time during this season to just think, dream and plan. 5 out of 7 years I set and accomplish the goals I set. This year I'm going BIG. I'm going to accomplish 100% of my goals. And, I'm not going to set only 2 goals so I can get it done. I have 9 good, strong, SMART, life changing goals set out with a plan to get each of them done. There are 2 elusive goals, however that have evaded me for YEARS. This year the year I turn 40 I will see them accomplished. No goals left behind. Here we go. Want to know what my goals are for 2014? Just watch…you'll see them soon enough. 

Here's my plan. I will share my goals at the end of January. 

1. Research my goals. I like to know what I'm getting myself into. I'm not GREAT at research, but I'm pretty good. 

2. I Decided that either I'm going to obsess over this or not. If I'm not going to obsess over it, then I'm not going to do it. 

3. Reduce the picture. Small bite sized pieces, daily steps, weekly steps, monthly steps you get the point. 

4. Make it public. I chose to blog about it. You can ask me questions about my goals. I'll gladly share where I am. 

5. Seek accountability. I LOVE to surround myself with people doing stuff. I want them to intentionally and unintentionally prod me on. 

6. I now expect it to be hard, but along with the struggle I expect, seek, look for the strength to get this thing done! 

7. Encourage and seek encouragement. 

8. Visualize the goal completion. I spend a little time daily thinking what it will be like to be as fit as I can at 40, to be debt free, to make my job the career I never hat to work at ever again, to be a multi book author. I like the picture now I need do it so you can see it, too.  

9. Learn from failures. If the goal is worthy of my time then failure isn't a STOP sign. It's a This ain't the way sign. 

10. Focus on 1 goal at one time. I need help on this. I tend to keep my goals in a family so I can do more than 1 in at a time cause they're related. 

11. Practice walking goal out every single day. I have to obsess about being the man God wants me to go. It has to consume my thoughts, words, actions and deeds. Then it will become easy.

12. Take responsibility for all of it. It's all mine. The success, the failures, the set backs the set ups. They are all mine. 

Lucky Number 13. Celebrate cause the journey was well worth it.