The Whitaker Park Crawl recap

This year’s Park Crawl was a ton of fun. A lot worked out just like we expected. There were some hiccups, but nothing to report.

Before

  • We scoped out parks that we wanted to creep by in advance. We also had our tried and true few near our house. So we had a solid plan to hit out goal.
  • Talk it up and talk it up right. The girls jumped out of bed this AM. There was no prodding and fussing. They were ready to get it going.
  • Start early. The afternoon would have been a horrible event if we hadn’t stopped early to run home.
  • Planning lunch spot was perfect.
  • Bring lots of bug spray and sun block.

During

  • Be willing to veer off plan. Traffic was a mess this morning so we couldn’t get to our 1st park and that threw off our plan. However, we found 3 parks that we wouldn’t have it we had stuck to our plan.
  • The girls are the right ages now. They understand that we’re doing something silly and fun. They know that this is supposed to be a Dine and Dash. I even heard them say “oh this is a 10 minute park” or “I’m going to get my full 15 minutes here.”
  • Even with a slight deviation to our trip we landed at our lunch spot on time and had a great time.

After

  • Don’t be surprised if they don’t fall asleep! WHY ARE THEY STILL AWAKE?!

Change

  • The girls wanted to do a video review of each park. That would have taken much longer than our expected 101-15 minutes. However, I think we could do this sometime soon. They had some excellent/thoughtful reasons for why they liked some parks and didn’t like others.
  • The girls were supposed to rate each park between 0-10. Well, needless to say that didn’t go just right.

Pictures forth coming.

 

The Whitaker Park Crawl

Today is the most epic foolishness that me and the girls do during the Summer, the Whitaker Park Crawl. Simply, we try to hit as many parks as we can in one day. This year since the girls are able we went and scoped out out route, planned our parks and determined where we’re getting lunch. I’ll report back with pics and shenanigans.

We start my new classroom in 3,2,1…

I am all about a dramatic outside presentation of a serious learning environment. I want everyone to feel that giving anything less than their best in my room isn’t going to go over very well. It’s not intimidating, but it has to be a situation where everyone knows what to expect and that I believe they an measure up. I want the entrance of my classroom to Pop and Amaze. That being said I am going to pare down my interior classroom design. There’s a good reason, too. Harvey Specter would.

Many of you know that I am an avid “Suits” fan. It’s a smart, fun show. Lots of thought go into each character, their wardrobe, heck even their offices. There’s a reason Harvey’s office looks like it does. It’s meant to display a full and complete control of his environment. There isn’t a lot of wasted space. The art that’s there is meant to continue the theme that Harvey has his stuff together. So what if Harvey had a classroom? I don’t know, but I plan to give it my best shot this week.

Yes, I know Harvey Specter isn’t real. However, the attitude and control of situation he projects is real in deed. What if he had a classroom. What would it look like?

Rather than focus heavily on deluging my classroom with creative ideas. I think I’m going to keep it very simple, focus on function and usefulness of my design and finally present an attitude of “getting stuff done” throughout my room. There are going to be some “busy” spots. The overall thought of the room is Reading can be found everywhere.

What would Harvey’s classroom look like? Can I draw any ideas from this office? I think so.

I am going to add to my room through out the year. How it looks on Day 1 will be a finished project. However, how it looks on Day 21 will be added and improved. I have some great things that won’t be done in a week.

Pictures should be ready by Tuesday.

How’s your classroom coming along?

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!

 

The Dip started early this year

If you’ve ever read the book “The Dip” by Godin you know I mean. The dip is the drop, dead space, the slog that happens in every venture. For runners it’s the 20th mile of a marathon. For med school students it’s Organic Chemistry. Every field, every venture has a dip and those that master their craft all over come the dip. For me it seems like every year I get into a dip. It usually happens right after MLK Day. There aren’t any more holidays coming up and we have 6 long weeks of heavy teaching before Spring Break. It’s a grind.

Just the other day I was getting myself in the mind set to press through the Dip. I know the kids are getting antsy. Hey, I’m getting kinda antsy, too. Yeah, I’m about the take this thing like a boss. Then I looked up, IT’S ONLY NOVEMBER! I’m in trouble!

The lessons aren’t popping. The talking isn’t stopping. I’m not sure if I’m coming or going most days. This year has really been odd. I’m pulling out my pre Spring break tricks and some of those aren’t working. The weather is blah so being outside isn’t nearly as rewarding. Calling home isn’t resulting in what I expected. I can’t say it enough this year is very peculiar. Another bi product of being in the dip to long is it’s draining. My ideas have been flat and I haven’t had the desire to blog. I’m going to keep pushing on through and maybe that will mean that my post MLK Day slog will be much less “sloggy”.

Meal prep has been excellent. I’m starting to see results in eating better. I’m starting to do bigger breakfasts, nice sized lunches, but a much smaller dinner. This has resulted in me going to be really early rather than being up late, tempted to eat. We’ll see.

How’s your school year going? Is it strange for you as well?

2nd Whitaker Park Crawl

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Let’s get this party started

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Our neighborhood Park. It’s not much. I believe my HOA is in the process of replacing the playground in stages so the 1st stage is the swings. We gave it 2 bowties.

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We enjoy this park deeply. Not just because of the name. It’s neat and has a huge shade covering the playground. Lots for all ages of kids.  4.5 bowties.

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I’m not all about this park. It’s not anything special. It’s spread out so I’m sure a lot of kids can play. We give it 2.5 bowties.

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Shade and space make this a great church playground. Never been here on Sunday, but I’m sure the kids enjoy it. 4.5 bowties.

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This is a neat Park. It’s. Not very special, but it’s shaded and gets 3 bowties.

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This is huge park. If you saw my video on this park last year, you know that I like this park. Add to it the comedy of Trina being chased by a bee and you know why I give it 5 bowties.

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Never been here before, but this is a fantastic playground.  It has a sectioned off little kids playground and a bigger kid area. Everything is neat and well maintained. 4.5 bowties

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A great spacious Park. Well maintained play equipment and a huge field for a game of kickball. 4 bowties

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A nice, quiet Park near our gym. Nothing special, but I’m sure very few people know it’s here. No geo tagging. 3 bowties.

There was a new Park we found. It’s in a community. We saw it and jumped out of the car. Very small and. Entirely to close to houses.  2 bowties

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The day was all worth it.

We gave bowties based on a very scientific measure of (Fun x pleading to stay x sweat beads x the number of times I had to look for you/good laughs cause a bee chased Trina. )

 

Just a few more days left to this wonderful summer break. Matter of fact I may stop by my school tomorrow just to breathe in some germs so I’ll be immune some Day 1.

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.

 

Summer is for reflecting

I’ve had a little time this Summer to think about what I’m going to do next school year to really bring change in my class. I could really enjoy the rest of the time off and relax. But I chose to spend a little time thinking about the next school year. Here are some things I thought about.

  • This year I’m going to spend a lot more time budgeting time. I have been blessed to work with some new teachers this summer. The only sliver of advice I believe I was supposed to give them was to not try to manage the kids, cause you can’t. Manage resources, opportunities and privileges to steer the students where you want them to go. Last year I feel I wasted a lot of time putting out small fires and not pouring water on my garden. A lot of my mental energy and resources were wasted doing other things that didn’t add to my students learning. This year it’s going to be very, very different. I have to be intentional. Watch.
  • I’m not going to do a classroom theme this year. This kind of stinks cause I have a great plan laid out and I think it would win awards. However, I don’t think it will help my students learn. Last year’s 7 habits theme was a bust to say the least. I will take 100% of the blame cause I don’t believe my students left that room with 1 better habit than the walked in with. I let them down. So this year I’m going to have a great room. It’s going to be inviting and it’s going to be engaging. But it’s not going to be a theme. I need to spend more of my energy on getting as much info in the minds of these kids and doing all I can to get them to love learning. Help me Lord.
  • This has nothing to do with education but, I regret wholeheartedly switching my blog from Typepad. I know that WordPress is supposed to be the business, but I haven’t found the “ahha” that’s WP. I’m sure it’s me, but I think I’m going to have to go back to TypePad. If anyone wants to give me a call, text, email or Skype me please do. I’m about to switch back to TypePad cause this for the birds. (That rant really felt good.)
  • I’ve resolved to remain a classroom teacher and God willing a 2nd grade classroom teacher. I like the idea of being out of the class, but the practical truth is I want to be in the trenches rubbing elbows with the kids who’ll one day have to make decisions that may effect me. I salute all those who want to and are outside the classroom.
  • You all know I’m not he meeting guy. I am all about collaboration. So this year I’m going to join some blogs and some online forums to share ideas and get new insights. At the moment GA is all in on Common Core so I need to make sure that my students are getting the best that they can get.

I have had such a restful few weeks off. I know that next week starts the slow build up to Day 1. I’m actually excited. I have a belief that things are going to work out a lot better than last year and that this year is going to be the start of something great.