Saturday, May 17, 2014


We have arrived at the end of the year!  Final assessments are complete.  We just have four very fun filled days left before we say goodbye.  This week is going to fly by, but I'm going to try my best to enjoy every moment.  We are going to make memories watching a movie, going to a baseball game, and of course the traditional last day of school Field Day!  Looking back, I am amazed at the strong learning community we created.  The bonds between my students and I and between students is incredible.  They have all come such a long way since the first week of school.

The worst part about the end of the year is the reality that many of my students didn't meet the standards for passing to the next grade level.  It's not because I'm ineffective or because they didn't put in the effort (believe me, we all did our very best), but the kids came to me a year or more behind and with some very challenging behaviors.  As I was putting together their writing portfolios for our celebration of learning open house, I realized just how far each student has come.  I sat in awe as I watched one portfolio show a students progress from scribbles to shapes to letters to words.  It's incredible to see child development so clear on paper.  Unfortunately, developing even a great amount is not enough if the child does not meet the benchmarks.  It's discouraging to tell a parent, "We all tried.  Our team failed.  Your child has to repeat."  I know we didn't fail.  The child made a huge amount of progress and will soon be on track, but soon is not good enough because there is no time left in the school year.

Do you have any tips for having these conversations with students and parents?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Importance of Appreciation

I've been blessed this year with a very giving class. They have shown their love and appreciation throughout the year.  Still, I find Teacher Appreciation Week to be a valuable opportunity to feel appreciated.  The week comes at a time when most teachers are burdened with the stress of state testing and end of the year assessments.  We've been testing almost all day long for a week and a half now and we still have another week to go.  As scores come in, I can't help but feel discouraged.  I lay the blame for failing scores on myself.  Certainly there is something more I could have done.  The message from the media, lawmakers, and politicians seems to be that student failure is directly related to teacher failure.

This week, I'm giving myself an excuse to appreciate myself and the progress students have made.  Even if they haven't met the standards, each of my students has made tremendous progress.  They have overcome obstacles such as lack of support at home, fine motor delays, and learning disorders.  They have struggled to make new friends and repair damaged friendships.  Just today a student remarked, "We're like family."  That's how I choose to measure my success.  It is a helpful reminder to me when my students, their families, other staff members, and community members offer their expressions of appreciation.  It reminds me that I have made a huge impact in the lives of these children.  It reminds me that they are more than test scores, they are respectable citizens and dedicated learners.

To all of you teachers out there, you are appreciated for everything you do!  Stop by my TeachersPayTeachers story for 28% savings when you use the code: TPTXO at check out.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Where has time gone?

It is hard to believe that there are only three weeks left in the school year.  Looking back, it seems to have all passed in the blink of an eye.  With the constant changes and disruptions throughout the year, I don't think we ever got into a solid routine until about two weeks ago.  As I am giving the end of the year tests, I am realizing all the things I forgot to teach and seeing more clearly the areas that my students needed more practice with.  It's not that I was negligent or wasn't monitoring their understanding throughout the year.  Actually, I think I spent so much time assessing, that I never did get much of a chance to teach.  There is just so much to cover (especially across three grade levels in one classroom) and so many state and district mandated assessments to give.  I'm confident I did my best this year and I'm hopeful that next year will be even better.  Regardless, so many of my students made huge gains that I am certain I must have done something right this year!
Here's to two more weeks of assessments and one week of end of the year celebrations!