The school year so far…in memes

My blogging has been horrible as of late. However, I decided to give you an update of the school year in memes. Please feel free to add your meme as well.

Why I lowered all my tables in my class

I am enjoying this school year. This class is the best that I’ve ever had in my years of teaching. I’ve never had so many students in one class that want to learn. Even the few that are off task aren’t horribly off task. This has been a great school year.  To say that I’m thankful or blessed is really an understatement.

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My class has finally won the Accelerated Reader Trophy

So in typical Jason fashion I got an idea. I decided to drop all my tables down so my students could sit on the floor rather than chairs. My thought was that it would squash the wiggling and extra moving in class. I am not totally creative. I saw something like it here and thought I’d give it a try. My chiropractor friend agreed that it would be a good idea to try.  I have been pleasantly surprised at what I’ve seen so far.

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  • I let the students pick to either sit on a colored cushion or a carpet square.
  • I also let them sit at which ever table they want to. (I never tell them that they have to sit in a certain spot, but I do tell them where they can’t sit.)
  • They can sit on their bottoms, sit on their knees or some form of the two. They can’t lay on the floor and they can’t crawl on the floor.
  • Taking care of all materials still applies.
  • Every month we will revisit, discuss and vote to keep the tables like they are or go back to the old configuration.

So far I honestly have no complaints. The students seem to like it. Only one had a contrary view. We came up with some ways for her to get comfortable and she’s a fan.

What I’ve seen so far.

  • My students move A LOT less. They wiggle and fidget, but not really as much up and down out of their chairs movement.
  • No leaning back in chairs. #Given
  • Students work together more. They have space. For some reason I think sitting in chairs took up to much space in their minds. Now they instantly give each other “elbow room” without being told.
  • They’re not nearly as talkative. (I’ve never felt the need to make everyone be quiet all the time. Why? They know when key and certain times they have to be quiet, but as long as the voice level is such “that Mr. Whitaker can hear his music” they’re good to go.

I am also doing a little more with digital classroom stuff. Just to save a little paper and keep my organization neater. I’ve started doing simple “exit tickets” and short quizzes using on line formats. The students submit what they do and we’re all happy. By no means am I a pro at it, but I am getting better. We use a ton of tech on the teachers end, but now I want to get the kiddos to do some as well.

Almost ready for the reveal

I’ve been talking about changing the homework in my class for a while. I am almost ready to reveal the (hopefully) finished product. My students have been pretty good at reading and building their stamina. I think this is going to be a real boost to their understanding of the reading process, comprehension and overall love for reading. I will be dropping the finished product this week.

Thank God for this class

 

I can’t say it any other way, but I really am thankful for this class. This year has been interesting. However, when the door closes on room B27 I have the best group of 3rd grade learners a teacher could ask. It’s going to be a year to say the least, but I really am glad I have this group of kiddos.

 

#KeepWhitaker1st

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Shenanigans from the Faculty vs Student bball game Friday. I made 45 signs of this nature and passed them out to the audience. Totally insane! Didn’t get any pics! Augh!

No, I am not self absorbed and want you to put me first in your life. I was sadly, made aware that I will be moving to a different grade next year. This year has been a wonderful footnote to my hectic often castaway teaching career. I have an outstanding team. I’m “getting” the process of teaching a diverse class and group of students. This year has brought so much good to my outlook on teaching. And just like that…rug is pulled out from under me.

So in an effort to “get over it” I have made my own hashtag to help me laugh at this and try to move on…#KeepWhitaker1st or #KeepWhit1st.  You’ll see it on my IG posts and other random places.

I am going to do the an analysis of this change using Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons of going to 4th grade

  • I must learn new content areas. My teaching cert is K-5. There’s 0 wrong with knowing 1-2 grade levels. Standards and programs change so often that being in one grade for a long time is just as fluid as moving every single year.

  • My personality could be better used with older students. There are some very serious challenges coming out of 3rd grade next year. There are also some very challenges rising to 1st grade next year.

  • My structure and ideas are better suited for older students. And it works with little ones, too.

  • I may like the older grades. I do. From afar!

  • The discipline needs at 4th grade are huge. I am not interested in older students with poor behavior. I’d much rather curtail the younger students than try to fix those who’ve already established poor habits.

Pros and Cons to staying on 1st grade

  • I am learning the content, standards and procedures. Most of the mistakes I made this year have already been resolved. Next year is going to be even better. Besides

  • Remaining on a grade level isn’t a bad thing. The more comfortable you are with the content the more reflective, insightful and creative you can be.

  • I am way more comfortable with the younger students. It isn’t about like as much as it is about being familiar with the children. I’ve worked many of the “high flyers” on Kindergarten already. They know just like I do that we’ll be toughing it out together next year.

  • There are some very serious challenges coming to 1st grade next year. Not to make myself the savior, but I do want to point out something. If no one lovingly exhorts and puts clear boundaries around the rising 1st grade next year, what kind of student will they be by 4th grade?

  • I have the support structure in place already. No need to Storm, Norm and Form with the 1st grade team. We all know each other and endear one another highly. This has been a very supportive grade level. Diverse and as mixed as a bag of nuts. But a common thread we share is we all care for our students, we love and enjoy one another and we like to laugh…A LOT!

I don’t want to move to 4th grade. I think that’s pretty clear. However, I am very clear of this. (*Warning I am going to make a lot of spiritual statements. If you’re offended, please log off now…)

This life is simple. We are here to glorify Christ. Though I have the pleasure of working for MCS, I serve Jesus Christ. And that being said I am resting that He will have me exactly where He wants me to be. I am positioning myself to go where ever I am assigned next year. I have a preference and I believe that the final result will be different. But even if, I will do what I’m tasked to do with joy in my heart that I have another opportunity to glorify my Lord and Savior.

Because though #KeepWhitaker1st is tongue and cheek Glorifying Christ is my reality.

 

2016 has started off…

This year has really been a mind bender. I’m SO used to resolution/goal setting/Daniel fasting/starting off with the end in mind/blah-blah-blah. This year however, I didn’t do any of the usual. I am sticking to what worked as I ended 2015 and not doing what didn’t work. That just seemed easy enough. Coming off our epic Christmas I have had ZERO interest in over stressing myself. So I’ve kept it all very low key. Let’s talk about it.

Family

  • We’re spending a lot more time together. The girls have so much going on that our little moments together are pretty special.
  • Family planning time. We have so much going on that we need to spend some time looking at and planning our calendars.
  • Um…yeah. We all are going to have to pitch in on household stuff. No reason to fake that any longer.

School

  • I love my little class. We’re struggling to make the gains that we need, but we can do it.
  • Each student has a chart of their place on our “gains train”. They all know just about what they need to do each week to get to the end with success.
  • I also LOVE my school. I can’t say enough about them. That being said I would like to just stay there, learn how to address the needs of this community and help DES become the school it’s supposed to be.

Crossfit

  • I am going to go get my Level 2 certification soon. Why not? I enjoy CF and I want to be better as a coach as well as a Crossfitter. The next certification will help me with the coaching aspect.
  • I want to find more ways to meal prep! I know that’s crazy cause I already to every meal and snack that I eat, but there’s some more that I’d like to do.
  • I can’t express how much I get out of Olympic lifting. I feel better and I feel amazing going at it on the platform.

Finances

  • Team Whitaker is in a good spot. That being said there are some areas that we’re not addressing. We’ve skipped them for YEARS and truth be told we just don’t know enough to be good in these areas. So…we’re going to fix that.
  • Sometime this year Team Whitaker will increase our streams of income times 2. More later.

Faith

  • I want my family to be able to properly sort and discuss matters of faith without feeling they’re not properly equipped. No need to wait for someone else to “defend them” they’re able to discuss these matters on their own.

I will expand on all of these more and more as the year moves on. Can you believe that we’re half way through January? Amazing how time flies.

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.

 

 

 

 

My second Oly Lifting Meet

This past weekend I competed in my second Olympic Lifting meet in Savannah, GA. I do believe that I’ve found a niche’ outside of CrossFit that fits me. This is pretty exciting. Let’s do a SWOT.wpid-img_20151115_135945.jpg

Strengths

  • I increased my lifting weight in every area.
  • I was able to complete all three of my snatches.
  • Overall I was relaxed and I didn’t feel rushed.
  • I was able to keep my nutrition on track. The time from the last time you lifted up to the time you lift can be my nemesis. I find myself stressing about it. I didn’t do that this time at all.
  • My coaches are very understanding, supportive and on their game.
  • I hit 4 out of 6 lifts.

Weakness

  • I missed two of my clean and jerks. I have no idea what I was thinking, but I missed them none the less.
  • I didn’t qualify for the Pan Am games in June.
  • Though no one every gets all 6 lifts, I feel I let myself down by missing those two lifts.

Opportunities

  • I am more hungry to train than I’ve ever been. I’m focused on my eating even though I can legitimately relax. I’ve incorporated lots more mobility work into my everyday routine and I feel the results.
  • There’s a lot to learn from failure and I’ve looked over the video of those missed lifts just as much as I did the successful lifts.
  • There are a lot of Olympic lifting meets coming up that will allow me to qualify for the Pan Am Games in June.

Threats

  • Doing to much.
  • Not taking the time to get better. Expecting improvements overnight.
  • Taking a little time off during Christmas/New Years can be a go

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I now know why I teach

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Today I said good bye to the most precious student I’ve had in my career.  This little guy came to my class two months ago.  He was from Mexico.  He didn’t read, speak English and had some issues with reading Spanish.  What worked in his favor is he had a super supportive family and he worked hard in class.

He immediately stole my heart with his polite demeanor and his will to work.  He got lots of support and help from our ESOL staff. In one month with all kinds of help he started speaking basic English, answering questions in both languages. He was a superstar. Because of his willingness to learn I started using Google Translate to relay messages to him and my other ESOL students. They all love it!

As you can see he has a handsome smile. When he walked in the room you couldn’t help but smile, laugh or both.

A few weeks ago his mom came in to tell me, with tears in her eyes that the family would be returning to Mexico in November. To say that I was heart broken isn’t the full story.  Then a few days later mom told me that everything had been moved up to October 15th. What?

Every day he walked in class he’d hug me and most of the time we’d cry.

Then this past week happened. I had kind of forgot that the day was coming until I got this text.

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This was the week! I knew that I had a workshop Wednesday, a field trip Thursday, so this would be a short week. I told him we’d have a going away party Friday. Whenever he could he’d grab my hand and walk down the hall. He’d hug me and most of the time we’d openly just cry. It got so bad that another student told me that she’d be a good student, too since I was losing Angel.  This was a special kid and I knew I wasn’t ok with losing him.

We went on a field trip Thursday. I feel sorry for the rest of my class. All I did was walk around with Angel and try to get some good pics for his mom. She wanted me to get some good memories for him.

And this wouldn’t be a story if I didn’t have one more twist. Thursday was his last day. Due to all the things his family had going on he wouldn’t be able to come to school Friday.

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There have been many a day that I wonder why I teach. If you know me off line you know I asked this question a lot. However, this past weekend I realized that this is why I teach. I teach so that I can feel alive. So that I can have authentic connections with another generation and one day know that this connection will net life change.

For the last time today Angel stopped by my class and it was hard to say good bye for the very last time. His family was beginning to make their journey south and eventually out of the country. He and I hugged for our last time When he let me go he whispered. “I love you”. This is why I teach.

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Good bye my dear friend. Many, many blessings on you and your family. Thanks for making me a better teacher

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?