Saturday, September 21, 2013

Whhheeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwww! The Year is Underway!

Okay... I admit: I'm not sure how to spell that sound that a tired teacher makes at the end of the first three weeks. I think the fractional equivalent is one-fourth excitement and three-fourths exhaustion.

At least I am doing better than last year! My woes at the beginning of the previous year were such that I had to disappear from cyber-space for almost two months just to catch my breath. Perhaps I have finally become immune to drama...

We are required to post our numbers on the board so that the principal can submit the numbers to the central office to allow them to redistribute staff as necessary. My enrollment seemed to change almost daily. One student changed classrooms on the second day, another moved after five days, another student arrived and departed within two days, and, starting Monday, another of my students has transferred to a private school! I think I will have thirty-three sixth graders this years. Or thirty-two. Or thirty-four...

Add to that a student who went on vacation for a week, followed by a sore throat virus and a fast case of stomach flu that moved from table group to table group sending them home (or at least to the office) in a steady stream. My most commonly used sentence frame seems to be "Is that the day you weren't here?" I spend a lot of time trying to picture the calendar in my head!

All that aside, things have gone gone fairly well.  Most of our routines are in place, Much of schedule has been cemented, and the kids seems to know when to be where and what to do when they get there!

This group is incredibly diverse. "Differentiation" will be the key word as I try to plan this year, and I keep wishing I could tutor every day after school for those who are so far below grade level. I am formulating a plan to support my strugglers, knowing in my heart that I am just one person and that there will never be enough time or materials. At times like this, I have to remind myself to delight in all progress, no matter how small...

The week ahead is filled with... adventures! 

In California, we have a yearly visit to show that we are in compliance with the Williams Act which ensures that all students have the textbooks they need and that they are being educated in a safe environment. At this very moment, all of my students have ALL of their textbooks on their desks ready for the "people with clipboards" who will arrive Monday morning. I have already coached them on the lack of personal space that they will experience as the auditors "lean in" to count their books. That sort of "closeness" makes students uncomfortable and I am hopeful that all of the thoughts in their heads will be shared AFTER the officials leave. Thankfully, my books are all numbered, so I think I have made it fairly easy for the visitors to get an accurate count--and move on to the next room!

On Wednesday, our school is participating in the K to College program. Students will be receiving school supplies and dental health kits and participating in an assembly focusing on career choices. Students are supposed to dress up to show the career they want to pursue. Honestly, I am not expecting much participation. Recently the additional suggestion was offered to dress in the colors of the college students hope to attend which did broaden the options. Still, sixth graders just aren't used to looking that far into the future. And many of them are already CERTAIN they have careers in professional sports or the music industry...

That same evening we have Back-to-School Night. It's a good thing this event falls after the first three weeks... I think I finally know which students are actually in my class! My sixth graders will be selling hot dogs for half an hour (which is not enough time!) before the PTA meeting. Guiding twelve kids (and hopefully a few willing parents) to sell two hundred hot dog plates in thirty minutes will be like an out-of-control event in Minute to Win It!

Barbecue graphics from Marie Truelove HERE on Etsy
 Then we have two rounds of forty-five minute presentations in our classroom during which we spell out our grade level programs. I have my fingers crossed that my technology will work. Talking through an invisible PowerPoint presentation is never fun!

On Friday, we will have more folks with clipboards as we welcome some observers who will be watching for the way in which we use "scaffolds" in our classroom to help support learning. Hopefully, by then, we will have the textbooks back on shelves and the Back-to-School barbecue materials out of sight! I think there will be three rounds of visitors. While I don't relish having people watching me teach, I know it is a part of the learning process (for them and for me). The hardest part is not knowing exactly WHEN they will arrive. There are some messy transitions as we move from whole group to small group and from small group to the next small group. I think we'll have to practice this a few times before Friday!

California has (almost) decided to suspend our state standardized testing this year in favor of assessments that approximate the "new learning" (and evaluation) of Common Core. This decision will save me from the two-part thinking that was plaguing me as I tried to organize for Common Core learning while, at the same time, preparing the students for tests which focused on the sunsetting state standards. I am thankful for the reprieve.

Okay, BlogBuddies, I think you are caught up on all that is happening in our sixth grade world. I hope that you are enjoying a wonderful new school year as well and that you are excited about the learning that is happening in your classroom! And I am so glad we can be cheerleaders for each other...

Cheerleader clip art by Joy of Kindergarten HERE on TpT
I found a new (to me) Linky Party HERE. I am linking this post to Mrs. Laffin's Laughings' Peek at My Week. I'm off to take a peek there as well!


  1. Holy Cow! No wonder you have semi-bloggy MIA. We haven't been audited by the Williams Act people, but I have heard it is not fun. I totally understand how you are feeling, overwhelmed and stressed seems to be my mantra. Please tell me that all districts, and not just some, are going to ditch the evil test??

  2. Wow Kim, I can't believe you have people come around with clipboards counting. Seems like something they should do during the summer months or something!! I know what you mean about numbers! Fortunately our school only had to re-ogranize the intermediate division, which means that now I will be a straight six as I lose my sevens. I'll be down from 31 to 24 as well!!
    Have a great weekend and get some sleep!
    Doodling Around in 6th Grade

  3. All of that AND you still blog and check in with your cyberspace friends to sprinkle sunshine? You AmAzE me! We're having a safety audit this year which I think will kind of be like your scaffolding show, maybe a little? SO much for us to worry about as we try to educate the heads and hearts of our future.

    Sending smiles,


  4. Whew! No wonder you're exhausted! That sounds like a lot for the beginning of the year! Our 6th graders are learning ancient civilizations as well! I love your book numbers! Where did you get them?
    I'm a new follower, I blog over at

  5. I am very impressed that you have stayed on top of everything that is going on! I am a preservice teacher studying at the University of Kentucky. It scares me to think about having so many kids in and out of the classroom. How do you catch students up? Do you have a way of keeping track of their prior knowledge? It seems like a huge challenge!

  6. So funny to read about another school district . . . I'm in Lee County, Florida. This is my first time teaching 6th grade. I was in elem for 12 yrs. One of the only things I miss is only having 30 something students. Try keeping track of 150, lol. I'm 6 weeks into the school year and the schedule changes are still never ending. I got a girl from Russia on Thursday who doesn't speak English . . . should make things even more interesting! Here's hoping you have a grreeeaaaat week!

  7. I have been teaching for 12 years but this is my first year for 6th grade (the last two years I have taught Kindergarten!) It is comforting to know I am not the only teacher exhausted after the first three weeks. Or that still has messy transitions.... Hope all goes well with the visitors in your room this week!

  8. It's a good thing I was sitting down when I read your post because it made me dizzy! I can't believe that you have people come in to count your TEXTBOOKS! WOW!! How do they expect you to teach with all of those interruptions????

    I'm so glad you could link up this week! I hope you'll join us again soon. :)



Thanks for reading this post. Comments bring me JOY! Please share your thoughts and join the conversation...