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.
  • 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.

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.





This is becoming a trend

Another great week. I got a lot done. I still have a ton to do, but this week was productive for sure.
Our math coach stopped by to teach a Math Workshop Lesson. Wow, she’s good. My kids learned a lot.
This was a part of the lesson. Thank you, Coach O’Connel!
Combined our two classes so Mrs. Smallwood and I could drive home the point of using tally makes to capture information then using that information in a graph. Once again, my students learned a lot.
We learned so much we took our learning to the streets. We went out in the hall and tallied up the students we saw wearing certain color shirts. Then we took it to class and made a simple graph using the data.
This week we started working on our AR tests. We’re focusing in on reading the book a couple of times then jumping on line to take the test. Teaching the students to stay with the book and make sure they understand it is a real task.
I wouldn’t be me if there weren’t bowties this week. Got a new Batman as well as Marvel comics bowtie. Let’s just call this Superhero week.
Good friend needed a reminded. Hey, I need this reminder, too.
Startbucks cookie straw and Kill Cliff iced coffee. This wasn’t a good idea. I’ll talk about this a little more on Thursday on a special Whole30 blog posting.
Let’s crack open the sparkling apple cider! My grade level won the best yard (hallway) decoration contest. We have full intentions of this starting a trend. We already started the plan for the next design in a few months.
And as always there were heavy weights lifted. Some didn’t fare to well, however. RIP.


Do I have to say that there was meal prep this week? My dinner swap made this fantastic breakfast bowl. It wasn’t 100% whole30, but it was all the way tasty and nutrient dense.

I Quit!

I year ago I read a book called "Quitter". The short premise of the book is that we as people are doing to much. We need to start quitting things that we're not going to be excellent at so we can focus in on those few things that make us stand out. *I never said I was a book reviewer. I just like books a lot

So this week I made a list of things I quit. 

I quit making sorry excuses for being lazy. 

Oh, yeah, not wanting to be original. I gave that up, too.

I quit giving myself permission to not be a really good teacher.

No reason to come to me with gossip. I quit that as well. 

Oh, you want me to bend over backwards to please you? Snap, I just quit that. 

I take my life far more seriously than I did a few years ago before I quit being a pitiful dad and husband. 

I quit beating myself up when I don't do something perfect. Hey, I'm moving aren't I? 

I quit NOT doing a budget. This flying by the seat of my pants is for the birds! Going back to doing a regular budget every month. 

I quit thinking that each of my students come fro backgrounds like mine or my own kids. They need a lot more TLC than I may require. 

Being that I have a house full of little girls, I quit focusing on the boys behavioral issues over the girls attention issues. 

Yeah, that yelling thing. I gave that up, too. 

I'm a contract employee with sarcasm, but I'm planning on dropping my 2 week off soon. 

I've almost finished reading and re reading Og Mandino's 10 scrolls from the Greatest Salesman in the World. Each day for a month I've read the small chapter 3 times. I'm on 8 and I have 2 more chapters to recite. It's been really helpful. Might start over again just because it's been such a habit. 

I also need to come up with a seriously fun activity for Friday. I want to tie in all the concepts we did this week and make it LIVE! Let me process that for a minute. 

Been at Crossfit South Cobb a lot more. The first part of the school year was beating me up, but I got in the habit and I was in there 4 times this week. I feel so much better and I think it's showing in my mental game. I have a lot more to do on my physical game, but my mind and heart are in the right place. 


What a great week!

This week has been great. I really, truly have been blessed with a fantastic group of kiddos. They don't do a lot of things right, but wow are they open to correction and redirection. 

Now, if I could get the guy I shave with everyday to really understand this literacy block I'd be golden! There's just a lot of moving parts to this new Common Core and just when I think I have an idea of how one part works I find I was looking at it wrong. I will say that my teammies are on it so I'm learning the fine art of begging for help. In all seriousness I'm gaining better understanding and it's starting to make sense. I need to dig through more teacher blogs to find ideas and resources. 

Next post I'm going to talk about the things I quit doing and some things I started. This is one. I'm going to have a Super Learner of the Week. My kids are so fabulous that it's only right to celebrate them. So this Friday I'm going to roll out a new award with my classroom jobs. This is going to be my 1st SL of the Week. I have some VERY helpful kids and if I could I'd give this out to 4 or 5 of them. This little guy is the best because he's been overly helpful with new kids coming to the class. I know he understands the class procedures and he shows them to others like an all star. He's mindful of his work and always puts in the time to make sure he's doing everything right. He doesn't do everything right, but he's making an effort and will correct himself when directed. He's really the epitome of a Super Learner to me.  And besides he's a snazzy dresser for 7!  Nevermind, he was moved from my room today with no explaination. SMH



Some new class decorations

I scored some new superhero toys from a consignment sale. As I find them I'll add more to my city scape. Even got a black suit Spidy to swing from a building. 


Got to have our friendly neighborhood spiderman guarding the city. 


Ready for a restful weekend, NOT! I have so much to do I'll be coming to work Monday to rest. Dear Lord!

If I string together enough little wins

Today was another W for "Super Learners Central". Taking the time on the front end to practice procedures is making me feel better about the time when we dive into the meat and potatoes of class. I also know that some of my kids aren't the strongest in every subject. I can see little signs that tell me where to work with each. But one thing is for sure they're all Super at doing these procedures so they at least have that win under their belt. 

The new classroom theme is…

Super Learners! 



Look up in the sky it's a kid! No it's a child. No it's a SUPER LEARNER! We excitedly want to and seek to learn new information to help strengthen our future choices. 



This came out WAY cooler than I thought it would. The kids that have seen my room have all flipped out about this side of the room. 


Last minute homework poster that turned out perfect. We'll use this to keep track of our homework. Or course no one will want to be the Joker and not turn in his/her work. 


Not Superhero related, but I like this birthday chart. I'm going to clip each childs name and date under the respective month of their birth. Got my class list late Friday so I didn't have time to do this. But I'll do it this week for sure. 


Wanted some more Brown superheroes. I wasn't as pleased with the final product. My character was too tall and I had to cut her feet off. Certainly will revisit this one, SOON. 


Now, I'm very pleased with the end result of this bboard. I can't wait to put some of my star and developing work up on it. The kids are going to flip out for sure. 


This lamp in my book center is SO busy. It's over the top for sure. Everyone who's seen it agrees, it's so bright it doesn't matter that there isn't a light bulb in it. *I put a bulb in it already. 



I'm very pleased with how this came out. Supes flying with a book in his hand is BOSS. No one saw that coming. 


This was the least creative board I've ever done. Kind of make my room set up like a mullett. Conservative in the front and a party in the back. Honestly I put all my mental energy into the classroom that I forgot about this board. I do have some things planned as soon as the students get some quality work turned in. 


I'm really proud of my minimalist posters. Kind of wish I could have done more. Not 100% sure I won't roll out some more later on this school year. Since I'm going to change my word wall location (think UP, REALLY high up) I will have some room to show case more student work later. 


Not the best pic of these fantastic curtains. They certainly tie the theme in and keep the room looking creative. Very well done and they block just enough light. 


My Hulk poster is good. It's not as overwhelming as I planned. Trust me if this theme helps draw my students in I've already planned to go 3D for everything next year. 


This didn't "look" like I intended. I had this image in my head and this isn't it. I'm going to have to hone my Cricut skills cause I could do better. Anyway, this is a game to help keep my class abiding by the procedure of looking forward when in line. When we line up I'll call "passwordP and give them a task. Give me a word with  4 letters that thats with an A or A 3 letter word that begins with T. I'll pull a name at random and if that student has an answer they'll get a point/treat/kudos of some kind. 


Composition books sliced in half, covered with newspaper comics and given a child's name. Going to use these as name tags when the students come to class Monday. Under common core they're supposed to write a lot so guess what they'll be doing with their composition books? 


I really, really like this one. It was a last minute project and the wind was at my back. Another shout out to my 2 girls. I had to use up the space and it certainly was a good use. Kind of wish I had put this on the other storage closet closer to the front of the class.  20120730_152613

My only staple. The only thing I've kept my entire teaching career. 4 simple rules. This year I'm focusing on procedures. I'm drilling and practicing procedures so that later I can shift gears and really pour the coals on the fire. I can't wait! 


I'm so geared up for this school year. I feel like I have a plan and I feel the plan can work. I know my mental game is on point and I'm ready to push this class of children well past where they think they can go. 3…2….1… here we go!