Saturday, August 20, 2016

Family Bike Ride and My Class in Action

Last Sunday we loaded up the kids and the bikes and headed to Woodward Park to ride the trails.  It was a lot of fun exploring the park, riding, getting dirty, and hanging as a family being active.

We have now finished an entire full week of school (plus the two days from the week before).  I think we are settling into a good groove of work, new classroom, and iPads.  The learning curve for the iPads has been so much quicker this year!  All but two of my 8th graders are returning students, so they didn't even need to be told how to access files or how to upload assignments.

The 7th graders have caught on quickly as well.  Tablets are second nature for most of these kids.  I'm finding it interesting that most of the kids are accessing their textbooks on their iPads even if they have a hard book available to them in the classroom.

My 8th graders working on a religion assignment.  They are doing really well taking care of our classroom, being respectful of the new furniture, and taking the opportunity to be comfortable and focused.

A surprising thing to me is that many of them like to hold pillows.  I think I need to get more throw pillows for them to hold on their laps.  I also want to get squishy balls/toys for them to squeeze and manipulate if they need to wiggle.  We don't think twice when  kindergartner needs to wiggle, but expect 13-year-olds to maintain for long stretches of time.  It's just not realistic.  They have the ability to move and be comfortable in this new setting.

I'm very curious each day to see which chairs are going to be the favorite.  The couch seems popular as well as the regular low table and the shelf table (in front of the red bulletin board).

Eric has done a lot of work for me.  We were at school today and he hung a bunch of pictures, oiled my squeaky glider, and is going to reset my projector.  I still want to get curtains.  That will be one of the final big things that I get to complete the room.

We had our first rally of the year on Thursday.  Evan is a student council member this year.  He is the boys sports commissioner.  The student council members help Mrs. Davis plan and run the rallies.  This year's back to school rally was a Hawaiian theme.  I was proud of Evan for getting into the spirit and helping to lead his school.

We have seen such great effort by Evan so far this year and could not be more proud!  He is working harder than ever before to keep up with his work, stay on top of assignments, learn a new iPad program, participate in sports, and get good grades.  So very, very, very impressed by this young man.  Plus, it's been fun having him in my classroom for Algebra and Social Studies.  So far, we are getting along!

Right now, both Evan and Hudson are taking a break from soccer, and I am LOVING it!  We have been going going going for five straight years with practice each week and games on the weekend.  It's so strange to come home after school, make dinner, and relax.  I know things will get busy in time, but for now, this break is quite welcome.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The First Day of School 2016-2017

School started reallllly early for us this year.  Our school won't ever be in session in June or July, so we needed to start early enough in August to make sure we got in our 180 days before the end of May.

To get ready for the first day, we all got hair cuts.

Evan has definite opinions on how he wants his hair to look.  Luckily, both of the boys prefer their hair short.

Hudson waiting his turn to get that mop cut off!

 That line was shaved in very deliberately.

I feel like we can see his big brown eyes again!

I didn't go in planning to get a haircut, but it had been a while since my last trim, so I hopped in the chair for a cut as well.

Buddy's new weird habit. He hangs out in the bathtub.  I caught him licking the faucet, which is totally unnecessary because we give him water.

As usual, all of us had a hard time going to sleep the night before the first day of school.

The first day was great, and the boys met me in my classroom after school.

I always tell them to act like they like each other!

The first days of school wipes out the teacher as well as the kids!

Luckily, I have a reclining couch.

The year is off to a great start, and I can't wait to really dig in and start teaching my kiddos!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Classroom Remodel

Last January while traveling to a basketball tournament, I was scrolling through Pinterest and came upon the coolest classroom I had ever seen.

Here is that classroom if you want to see what I mean: COOLEST CLASSROOM

The wheels in my brain started spinning like mad, and I started to wonder if it would be possible to do something like that in my own classroom.

I brought up the idea to my partner teacher, Amanda, and as always, she was totally on board.  She really is the best when it comes to out of the box, crazy ideas!

We brought it up to our principal who told us to write up a proposal and prove to him it could work.  We did...he approved...we got to work!

Some of the reasons for wanting to do this:
1. Create a warm, inviting, cozy, and relaxed space for kids and myself to work.
2. As our school is growing, the tables were not working well in the tight classroom space.
3. This atmosphere pairs well with our iPad program.
4. I've been teaching for 17 years, and I needed to spice it up!

My original plan was to paint two of my four walls.  Here is one blank wall and a dirty floor.

At this point of the summer, I had already started buying random and quirky pieces of furniture.  It was all smooshed into the room while I tried to decorate and work around it.

Such a crazy mess all summer.

Purple is my favorite color, so I chose that for my first wall.

I made some mistakes along the way such as not using the proper roller size for the foam that I had.  I wasted a lot of time and paint by still continuing to use this roller.  Lesson learned.

People are quite surprised when I tell them that I did all the painting myself.  

The purple wall took me two days to complete.

It's a little streaky, but I can live with that.

Where am I going to put all this furniture?!  Even with only one wall painted, the room took on such a different feel!

Then I started on the opposite wall.  While purple is my favorite color, I think I like this blue wall even more than the purple one!

Painting brick is HARD!

This wall took a few days to paint as well.

I was teaching summer school out of this room amidst the chaos!  That was a challenge!

It slowly came together.

Done with painting the two walls!

 But everything was still a mess.  Plus, the janitor needed to get in and clean the floors.  

One of the pictures for my gallery wall.

A giant, super fluffy rug that is looks way bigger rolled up in the corner than it does rolled out on the floor.

I have one super long storage cabinet that was underneath my windows.  I needed to move it to the purple wall for better furniture layout. Imagine my disgust at realizing there was no tile under the cabinet.  Oh well!

It still got moved.  I plan to paint the ugly brown doors.

Years of junk falling behind the cabinet.

After painting the two walls in such pretty colors, I couldn't bear to leave the other two walls the ugly cream.  I really hadn't plan on painting all four walls, but I couldn't help myself.  I wanted to do pink and grey.  Eric convinced me to tone it down a bit with just grey.  And it turned out to be so pretty and the best decision.  

I knocked that wall out in one day.

I think Eric and I did a great job choosing a grey that complimented both the purple and the blue.

Both corners are so pretty.

I don't know which combo I like better!

Floors are clean, the rug is rolled out, and I slowly started getting furniture situated where I wanted it.

I'll probably switch out my hanging stars for something a bit more girly and fluffy!

Having a love seat in my room is awesome!  But sometimes I wanted to just lie on it rather than work!

I really hit a stall in finishing up the final grey wall trim areas.  I finally had to put my big girl pants on one day and just GET IT DONE!

And then I took another rest!

School started on August 11.  I've got to say, leading the kids into the classrooms and hearing the gasps of surprise and delight was one of the coolest things I've experienced as a teacher!  It was truly a great project that I did for the kids and for myself, and I really, really, really wanted them to like it!

The project will never be fully finished, but here are some up-to-date as of this morning photos that I took of my room.

Standing at the front classroom door.  The floor is supposed to get tiled, but for some reason, it really doesn't bother me!  It's eclectic like the rest of the room!

An all over look from front door, which is at the back of the classroom.

Eric was helping me this morning.  He has been tremendous in helping me with this project.  I am so lucky to have a husband who doesn't even bat an eye when I say I've got this huge idea!  He runs with it.  He's the one who found most of the furniture.

I wanted a coat rack, but these hooks are even better.

I love this round bar table and chairs.  I plan to get curtains to go over the windows.

I need to hang up the mirror. 

Mary and Jesus are going to live on the long counter.

My art pieces need to get hung on the wall.  The bicycle picture is my favorite!  I saw it many weeks ago and just fell in love with it.  Now I get to look at it almost every day!

I spray painted my little plastic caddy pink.

Enough shelving space for storage and decorations.

My desk area.  The goal is to keep it uncluttered!

There are quite a variety of chairs.  Kids can sit on the floor if they want.  They can rock, They can hold pillows.  It's been great for the first two days!

I mentioned to Eric that I wanted this retro frig, and it magically appeared in my classroom!  I didn't even notice the box at the back of the room yesterday for several hours.  I was in the middle of teaching algebra when I saw it and squealed!  I joke that I mention something that I want to Eric, and it becomes mine.  I need to start mentioned diamonds and jewelry!  Just kidding!

Besides couches and cushion chairs, there is also this table and chair set and another short table with stools for kids to choose for their work space.

I have no doubt that issues are going to arise.  I plan to have kids choose a variety of seats to experience different locations around the room.  The goal is to have them become self aware in knowing where they work best for different tasks.  So far, there doesn't seem to be a clear winner of a favorite spot to sit.  

I also know that we will need to overcome things such as flat surface needs.  I wanted to wait to see what I needed.  I might purchase clipboards or lap tables.  I wanted to respond to the needs in an organic way rather than guess what might be needed.

In any case, I am soooooo excited to be in this space to do my work.  I love being surrounded by pretty things.  I want to decorate and spend more money than I've ever been willing to spend!  I want the kids to feel happy, comfortable, and eager to be in the room.  So far, they seem to be all of those things.

Eric and I went to Hobby Lobby today.  I've never been there before, and it was phenomenal!  I had to exercise serious restraint!  However, this Cinderella coach was something I couldn't resist!  

Now I just need to find the perfect spot for it in my classroom!