Who Knew a Test Could Be My One Good Thing?

My one good thing is a week old but it keeps hitting me again and again. Monday’s are tough for a number of my kiddos this year. Readjusting to school each week is hard. So I was worried about last Monday, the first day back after the five day Thanksgiving weekend. To add to the challenge, my third graders had to take a district wide assessment in math that morning. Their first online assessment of that scale. And they took it a day before the other seven third grade classes because I was leaving town for three days for a conference.

We got started with them all logging on to computers. That’s no small feat with 23 third graders who don’t use computers at school regularly. Once we had everyone logged on we navigated to the right site and learned that they couldn’t access the assessment. This was probably 15 minutes so far.

One of our assistant principals and I started trying to find tech support. The kids sat and waited. Then we learned that the few kids who were taking the assessment in another room could get to it. They used a different log in. We weren’t sure if that was the reason for their success or if it was because they had laptops from a different cart.

I had no idea what else to try though. So all my kiddos logged out and logged in a different way. Their computers then took quite a while to boot up again. From the start to actually getting in to the assessment was about an hour. So my third graders basically sat there for an hour. And then they took the assessment!

I was astounded by their patience and the amount of effort they put into the assessment. If they had given it a halfway attempt I wouldn’t have blamed them at all. But they didn’t. For whatever reason they gave it their best.

I have a lot of issues with standardized tests. And a lot of issues with how many tests young children have to take. In spite of that, I was seriously wowed by the dedication and work ethic these kids showed. I am so lucky to learn with them every day.

It’s the little things

It was a long day today…

But a kid did tell me, “You’re the first teacher I’ve had that I feel like I can talk to about stuff. It’s really nice to have that.”

I’m not glad I’m the first teacher to fill that role for this student, but am I thankful that I get to partake in the role. And I’m very thankful he chose to tell me.

Especially today… ❤

Safe

Yesterday for Wacky Wednesday in PreCalc, I showed a Simon’s Cat video. I told the kids how much I love cats. In fact, after doing 23andMe, it has been confirmed that my ancestors are from a region in modern-day Turkey that is known for its love of cats. “There’s even a recent documentary about this area and their fondness of their street cats.”

{Sidenote: this also explains my son’s affinity for all things kitties: pretending to be a cat any chance he can get, dressing up as a cat for Halloween, requesting a cat-themed four-year-old party…}

One of my students is from Turkey and wanted to know more about this documentary. I didn’t know much about it so we looked up the trailer today during lunch. We watched and laughed and he translated all the kitties’ names for me.

I know I just said this, but truly: there’s a very special bond I share with my students who are also immigrants. There’s this…safety. I can’t quite explain it. But it’s like we know that others think we’re kind of weird. And we’re really ok with that. But we also know that other immigrants understand that weirdness and so it just feels…safe. Safe to share your culture. Safe to speak your own language. Safe to talk about your traditions. Safe to speak fondly of another country, of different ways.

It’s this space that we create for each other.

Sticky notes

Calc had a Check Up today while I graded their notebooks. I used to kind of dread these days because sitting behind a desk grading homework for three hours is just not my idea of enjoyment.

I recently started leaving little sticky notes inside some of the notebooks that really impressed me. It helped the hour go by a little faster, and I found I was focusing on the good work students were submitting instead of getting annoyed by incomplete or sloppy work. Go figure, being intentional about looking for the good makes you happier. You’d think that’s a lesson I would have learned by now.

Anyway, today I got a note inside a notebook. And it made my day:

Bonds

I told my second hour that we were going to practice mindfulness after the warm up. A couple girls cheered. “We were just talking about this in first hour!”

Seriously, if you’re looking for something to add to your class that’s not content-related, give mindfulness a try. My kids and I all love it. I wrote a post about it on my personal blog here.

*****

A student from last year came by after school. “I heard about the situation in Iran. I wanted to make sure you and your family were ok.”

My school is full of immigrants. I know that’s a very big reason I fit in so well at UHS. Growing up, I always felt like an outsider. I sort of still do. But now I spend my days with a bunch of other outsiders. And somehow we all just kind of belong. It’s this unwritten code that we as immigrants, or children of immigrants, understand.

It’s fascinating to me that the very thing that made me feel like I never fit in as a child has become one of the most important bonds I share with many of my students.

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:2-4‬

Welcome back

My boys and I had SUCH a good break–full of decorating our home, seeing Christmas lights, riding a horse-drawn carriage, watching Disney+, watching Frozen 2 followed by frozen hot chocolate, and lots (and lots and lots) of rounds Go Fish! It was one of those breaks I just wanted to soak in every moment.

Which can make it hard to go back to school!

But the kids loved the decorated classroom and many stood by the tree trying to find their ornament. I loved it.

I love that I have a job that affords me so much time with my family.

And I love that I have a job that gives me second family to love and to be loved by.

Decorating with Delaney, Take Six

For a two-day week, it sure was a crazy one (as evidenced by the fact that I’m writing this on the wrong day)! Lots of highs and lots of lows. The holidays, man.

But every time I hit bump, I kept thinking, “Decorate with Delaney after school on Tuesday…”

Delaney is part of the magical class of 2015 (also the year that produced Alyssa and Morgan, my students-turned-colleagues). Since 2014, every Tuesday before Thanksgiving, she has faithfully helped decorate my room for the holidays. Six. Years. And she comes back every year, even though she is in Texas working on her combined undergrad/grad degree (also in math education…I’m tellin’ ya: that class has my HEART).

This year I was bound and determined to find a cheap tree and make ornaments for each of my students. This was inspired by an ornament my husband still hangs on our tree every year from his teacher in 1992:

I thought this was an ambitious enough goal so I scrapped my usual snowflake-making. The tree turned out exactly how I wanted:

Delaney was a gem.

She also knows me well enough to be honest: “You need your snowflakes.”

“Gah! I know!”

But I was not about to make paper snowflakes. No way.

Turns out I needed to visit someone at Hobby Lobby anyway (literally across the street from school). We made a plan: Delaney looked for snowflakes while I visited with my friend. Then we grabbed Jonas and came back to finish the decorating.

It was the absolute best end to the week. Not much makes me happier than decorating with my loved ones…