Meet the Teacher


I've Been Doing Well...After All

  I officially started Spring Break yesterday and cannot believe there are only 8 more weeks left of school.  That's 40 days minus Memorial Day, a planning day and 5 days I will be out of school to take my daughter to the Cheerleading Worlds in Orlando, Florida.  That's 33 days...oh.my.goodness.
  This is the time of year I wonder about my teaching and my student's growth.  I have been doing it for about 3 weeks now, which is earlier than my usual.  I believe that is because this is the first year I've fully adopted the Common Core.
  Don't get me wrong, I've been doing bits and pieces 3 years prior, but this is the first year our state has to implement them.  It wasn't as hard to teach because I'd been doing it.  To assess-well, that's been a nightmare.  All we have is the end of year standards and my district did not give us any grading guidelines for the first 2 trimesters, so we collaborated and hoped and prayed we were right with our grades.  I also told myself I would make mistakes and it was ok.  I was learning, too.
  At the start of the year I was concerned about math because our district uses Everyday Math.  When we looked at how many lessons actually met CCSS, we'd have around 3 months of curriculum and then we'd have to supplement. Our principal was wonderful and ordered Eureka Math, from Engage NY to help. After purchasing it, my team realized it met all of the CCSS standards and had so much more teaching than Everyday Math, especially with number sense.  We begged to only use that instead of piece-mealing.  Luckily, she said, 'Yes" {love her}.
  I used Everyday Math for 10 years and was quite comfortable with it.  I had every unit (with supplements) on Notebook for the SMARTBoard. I worked for a good 8 years on it and it was beautiful.  Now I had to start all over again.  Eureka Math is a lot of work and a lot more teaching and now I had to prepare for math--something I did not need to do for the last 8 years.  But, I have to tell you, it was SO worth it.  I have better mathematicians than ever who have number sense, fluency, flexibility and can solve problems in more than one way.  It is A*MA*ZING!
  To illustrate how good it is, my first graders took a 5 page test with word problems involving 3 or more addends, missing subtrahends, data analysis, measurement story problems, missing addends, etc.  all mixed up.  Each story problem required a labeled picture, number sentence and written statement and the lowest grade of all 23 was an 80, more than half in the 90's and 6 100's!  No way my class from last year could have done this and they came to first grade more prepared than this year's class.
  In reading, I have 7 kids at a DRA2 28, 4 at a level 24, 5 at a level 16, 3 at a level 14 and 4 at a level 10-12.  At the beginning of the year, 14 were at a level 3, 3 at a level 6, 1 at a 12, 3 at a level 1, 1 at a level 2 and one could not read. That is FABULOUS progress and the year is not even over.
  I had three kids at the year's start who could not write their name.  They lacked stamina and needed a lot of help getting started.  Now they are writing 4 page chapter books with titles, topic sentences, many details and a closing sentence.  Their books have nonfiction text features!

  I am so glad I reflected on how I was doing this first year of completely implementing CCSS. I have a lot to learn and can do better next year.  I have learned a lot and will be better prepared in years to come.  All year I felt like a first year teacher, still learning how to teach.  After 19 years, that was uncomfortable.  I spent a ton of time lesson planning, preparing, collaborating and reflecting and I hated it a lot of the time.  But I did not fail my students like I thought I would.  I did not need to spend sleepless nights feeling like a failure and worrying.  I did just fine and even if I didn't, I did the best I could and that's all I could expect of myself.

  I found a lot of support through the First Grade Study Team.  I facilitate it for my large district. It was very reassuring to hear everyone else, even teachers of 30 years felt like me. If you have something similar at your school, I highly suggest it.  It was a great support system this year.

Let me know how you survived this year.  I love hearing stories of other's successes and thought processes. And, you, too, just may make someone feel better!

To celebrate Spring Break everything in my TPT store is 20% off until 3/31/14.  Happy Spring Break!!


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