So much to do

I have been in a Phonics training for the last few months. It’s been very insightful. I didn’t KNOW how to teach phonics and with the ebbs and flows in education it was hard to see where this would fit into the daily grind. Thankfully my district has invested a lot into teaching phonics and I believe it was money well spent.

My class has several struggling readers, ESOL as well as kids that aren’t motivated. What I found out is that that the more time I spend in helping them in this area the better their behavior has become. I’m not saying it’s a fix all, but helping them to read has helped a lot.

I have a few powerful stories to tell when I get a chance, but I will just say that knowing that they can read and have the skills to tackle tough words has made an impact that I hope lasts well past our time in 1st grade.

Catching up

I’ve been really giving this class my best and I haven’t blogged like I wanted to. It’s funny how just a few minute changes make teaching so much different.

wpid-20151002_111731.jpgOne of my babies thought they’d bribe me by putting my name in their noun search. Well, it worked. Here’s a cookie! I love this group.

We have a SUPER transient population. I knew this going in, but I didn’t realize just how much. I’ve already had 7 new kids come in post Day 1. I’ve already had 3 kids move and I have 4 more about to leave in the next few weeks. I had a student come in on 9/15 and withdraw 9/28. Since we had 2 work days that means she was only in my class for 7 days! This is pretty interesting.

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My absolute favorite student (yes, I have a favorite student and I tell him all the time) is about to leave due to immigration issues. The day he found out he was on his way to school. He literally hugged me and cried for most of the morning. I will also say I cried, too. He’s a fantastic ESOL kid. He’s making strides. He’s putting in effort and his family is very supportive. Needless to say whenever he wants to laugh or wants to talk to me I stop what I’m doing and listen.

I even asked his mom if I could adopt him so he could stay.

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He knew very little if any English when he got to room D44. Now he can speak in some very well thought out sentences. This page right here is the page we were working on when he said “Mr.Whitaker, that says red”. #Ialmostfainted

I don’t need to say how much I adore my team. This is a special group of professionals. We all understand our craft differently, but we all want the exact same thing…longer Summers and more money!  Oh and we want to produce the best students MCS has ever seen, too. I need to do a collaborative lesson with Ms. Mills’ class and Ms. Butler’s class. Since Whitaker’s book worms have been in just about everyone else’s room it’s only fair to corrupt these classes as well. See, you soon Mills and Butler!

Not sure why, but I have 4 Kennesaw State University students observing me. Talk about a fun adventure. They’re getting a full dose of what it’s like and I think they’re going to do great.  I have the best job!

I’m going to be competing in two lifting comps in the next 60 days. I’m very amped. Two  lifts. One I’m going to crush and one is going to be there to keep me humble. Thanks to my coaches I think I have a great chance of making a run at doing this for a while. I’ve also returned to running to keep my cardio strong. I had given up on running when I became a CrossFitter. Now, I’m looking at balancing the two. I’ve been coaching at yet another box. I think the only thing that would seriously make me consider giving up teaching is coaching. I love these athletes. I’m super humble that Miles, Jake and Cathy trust me with their people. Top that with all that I get from them and it’s like awesome wrapped in bacon sprinkled with a hefty dose of Heck yeah!

You already know that I’ve been meal prepping. Not going to give that up for the world. My little dinner party has been a super success. So many great stories and so much great food. Still seeing the results of my Whole130. It’s been very, very easy to maintain my overall fitness now that I’m eating pretty normal. Let’s see how it translates into my comps and results moving into 2016.

More pictures soon.

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.

This Summer right here

You all know that I enjoy my Summer break. You know I get a lot in to the 8 weeks we teachers cherish. But this Summer has already proven to be a little much for me.

  • I started Crossfit coaching A LOT. I enjoy it so much that I don’t think about it when I’m doing it, but it’s exhausting. My hat goes off to every owner who runs multiple classes, day after day.
  • Trying to do family Bible Study every week.
  • I’ve been playing trough some mentally challenging stuff. This has really wore my creative mind out.
  • My girls were in a movie shoot this past week. Almost was the complete mental down fall of your favorite bowtie teacher.
  • Dr. Whitaker has a new job and with that a ton of new responsibilities. Do I need to say more?
  • Daddy Day Camp starts Monday! Augh!
  • I want to study/read over the 1st grade learning standards, but I’m so busy I can’t settle my mind enough to digest them.

What came to me today was that I’m not meditating on God’s Word nor replenishing my mind and thoughts. I’ve allowed myself to not think on Him, but more on my surroundings. What’s the use of scripture if I’m not fully utilizing it as 2 Timothy 3:16 says? It’s to common to make light of a prayer less or Bible less life, but it’s very true. Next couple of weeks I think I’m going to unplug more, I can’t promise complete  un tethering, but certainly will make it more deliberate attempt.

Teacher Philosopher

wpid-20141022_111637.jpgThe 2nd part of this school year has been outstanding. I put my focus back on what really needs to happen/change and the other stuff is just going to do what it does. I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t give every student a real chance to better him/herself. And I’d feel even worse if I continued to put a great deal of my time into trying to get behaviors and attitudes on par at the expense of those who really do want to learn.

That being said, I have found myself thinking about my profession more.

Here are a couple of things I’ve noticed this year

  • Student’s always seem to transition to my school on Friday mid morning and Monday morning.
  • There aren’t many families (3+ students) that at least one isn’t in the SST process.
  • Just about every student we’ve received after Day 1 has had some kind of glaring deficiency.
  • Not having a school wide discipline plan is a very tough thing.
  • If it weren’t for my team mates I’d be sunk like a rock.
  • Homework still has to be the most overread, under appreciated, dusty tool in the tool box. Project, baby!
  • Students do want Love and Respect even though they don’t even understand these concepts. It’s hard wired into their being.
  • No matter the seniority every teacher needs a rope thrown to them every now and then.
  • People WHISPER what they think they want, but the SHOUT what they’re willing to give up time and resources for  through their actions.
  • No one in the school is our enemy. There is not Us vs.Them. We’re all on a fast moving train. It’s up to US to make it a luxury liner or a speeding train to disaster.
  • Technology is overrated. Very useful, but it’s not everything we make it out to be.

I enjoy teaching. There are a lot of “but’s” to that statement. However, I feel very comfortable that I’m in the right field. I’m making a difference and as I’ll share in my next post It’s my Lifestyle career.

Crossfit and my classroom do mix

You all know that I seriously heart Crossfit. Not interested in debating the merits of your dance class or your video series. If you like it and are seeing results, keep at it.  I've seen so many fantastic results when people are passionate and intense about their task. Whatever kind of pretzel you're contorting your body into, please enjoy. 

There are a few reasons I've tied my wagon to Crossfit as the means to drag my carcass off the couch. I've found that my reasons can be lined up with my teaching experience as well. 

 Nothing is ever the same.  Yeah, there are crossfit benchmarks that roll by every couple of weeks or so, but the scheduled WOD are always different. If your gym is doing good programing you'll se your favorites mixed in with your not so fav and that unknown keeps your growing.

This couldn't reflect the classroom any better. There are children who come to you daily and you expect them to return everyday. But they don't! Their evil doppelganger comes in and takes up shop in your room and all you can do it adapt and respond. Got to deal with the Child of the Day that showed up in your room just like the WOD. 

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No matter how tough it is…you're getting better. There are the tough skills that you just don't seem to get, but over all you're getting better. Currently I'm expecting the Crossfit genie to bring me a muscle up. I've been waiting for his cousin Teaching genie to make this job easier everyday as well. But what I've noticed is I'm getting closer to my muscle up and I'm getting better at teaching. The more I use resources like Beyond the Whiteboard and ClassDojo the more I see that I'm getting strong and eventually I'll get that muscle up and I'll probably be a good teacher, too. 

Teamies are the best! I work with some of the best people. I'm very happy with my school. I feel the school has my back just as much as they want th best for the kids. That translated into my gym. There are some great people there. Most of our interaction is spent between near death experiences with barbells and burpees, we've really grown. 

Everything looks crazy until you give it a shot.

One thing about CF I've learned over the years is that it's not for most people. Once you start rattling off the latest WOD description and how excited you are, your co workers/friends/family immediately start calling Dial a Shrink. The same applies to teaching. May people don't see WHY we do it. Most of the time we talk about just how tough it is to get through to Johnny or Sally.  Many times we don't KNOW why we do it, either. We do know that we find fulfillment in this career. We just know that we're supposed to and somewhere in this hay stack is big, shiny needle. And we're going to find it. Kind of like 50 #135 power clean for time. "Why?!"

"Well because that's what was on the board today." 

 Planning leads to success. The more I plan and prepare for class the better lessons get. I feel that "break through" happening with my students. The worse prepared I am the more it shows in my students.  The more I plan and schedule crossfit into my life the more it fits into my life. Especially eating. When I plan my meals to compliment my workout I see great results. When I eat when and whatever I tend to derail my results. When I plan to hit the gym right after work, but before I pick up my girls I just works. That keeps me on track and on pace. 

Every second counts. Imagine a workout that goes on for 12 minutes. You're beat down. You won't want to pick up that weight one more time. You look over to your neighbor and they're feeling the same way, you can tell. You notice him looking over at the clock and he makes a mad dash to the weight and hoists it up. You do the same. You two are in an all out sprint. That weight it flying. TIME! You collapse to the floor in a total exhaustion. Afterwards you find out that you and your neighbor were within a few reps of each out, but you pulled it out. You didn't let the last few seconds fade away. You ended strong.  

Everyday in school is like that. When the 2 pm time comes around I can either lean off the the throttle or keep plugging away. Do I let off cause I've been working with these students for 6 hours already or do I keep pushing on? Whenever I push on and make the kids practice fact familes or spell something hard until the bell rings I have a much better day the next day. The kids will come back having thought about the book we read or have some new insight. Every second counts. 

Crossfit and Teaching need each other. The stress teaching causes me can only releaved through hard vigorus exercise. Throwing the weight equal to my entire class over my head makes it very easy to sit that class down and breath a sigh of relief. The exertion that CF causes on me really helps me to mellow out through the day. I'd be bouncing off the walls by 11:13 am if I didn't blow off a lot of extra steam during my 430 forrays to CFSC

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PS. CF convinced me to leave Team Adidas! 

Wouldn't trade my INOV8s for the world! 

 Alright got to get hustling. Group warm up starts in 20 minutes. Here's a little video of a a 47.5 inch box jump