14 September 2008

Full to overflowing

First off, I apologize that I have been absent from the bloggosphere. I've tried hard to keep up with the IF world since school has started, but the little buggers are running me ragged and I can barely keep my eyes open past 9pm. I had no idea that the learning curve from grades five and six to grade one would be this steep! I also fear that hanging around 22 six year olds (and soon to be 23 tomorrow morning!) has made clear, linear thought quite difficult. So here's a list of what has been going on in my crazy life since the first day of school, and my there's quite a few reasons to be frustrated!

1. I discovered that despite loving little kids that spending the school day with six year olds is really tiring. Ten years ago this coming January, I taught my first class in grad school as a TA. I remember that I was very scared to face a class of undergrads, but it doesn't compare to the fear I've felt facing my current class. The first couple of days of school I was overcome with regret at leaving my old school and my old position -- a grade that I could teach with my hands tied behind my back and hopping on one foot! But I do have to admit that it's pretty cool to see the little guys learning so quickly. In two weeks they've picked up more French than my junior level classes did in a whole term of school!

2. I've learned that six year olds can be really violent. I've had one particular student in the office every day and the incidents that he's been involved in have been progressively more and more vicious. Mr. JB has nicknamed him Killer K (after the recently deceased wrestler) and frighteningly enough it fits. We started the school year with him hitting kids in the schoolyard to refusing to do work and putting his feet up on his desk! Then last week he threw a kid in grade three down to the ground during recess, a kid that is a head and a half taller than him!

Trying to be proactive, I invited his mom (who I've spoken to every day since the first day of school) to come in so we could discuss his behaviour in hopes of finding a way to work together proactively before things got worse. Unfortunately, the meeting with his parents didn't dissuade Killer K because seventeen minutes before the dismissal bell on Thursday he stabbed a kid in the arm with a pencil. Apparently the other kid got in his way while he was copying off of the board.

Lucky for me my new principal is great and he dealt with Killer K right away. He spoke to Killer's mom right after school (I had to send her to the office since they wouldn't let him go back to class after the incident) and he didn't sugarcoat the situation. The kid will be spending recess in the office tomorrow and hopefully will not maim anyone. I hope.

3. In light of my new job I've also been doubting my effectiveness as a teacher. I've spent a lot of time blaming myself for the behaviours of my students (i.e. their inability to stay still and sit at their desks for more than 2 minutes, and of course, beating one another up!). It took a really good cry last Thursday and a couple of visits to the other grade one teachers to believe that it's the kids, not me. I've adjusted my approach and I've decided to use the "go quiet" approach rather than talk over the kiddies and it seems to be working. There's been a lot getting the kids to put their heads down rather than lecturing them on how to behave. I've also started to tell them that, "It makes Madame sad when you don't listen to her." And it works!

I also have to remember that I have to teach my students how to be grade ones and that they need lots of breaks. I do know that they love to sing and dance, both things that I enjoy doing and that I have to praise them a lot when they do things right.

4. My teaching partner is nuts. She's teaching the other French Immersion class and we're next door to one another. Not only is she way too intense, she spends her day yelling at her class, keeping them in at recess when they don't complete their work (and sometimes when she doesn't finish her lesson, she doesn't let them go outside or let them have their snack!).

I think she's forgotten that most of her class doesn't know how to read when she makes them do activities that are way too complicated (activities that I've adapted to be simpler so my class can feel a sense of some success!). Although we plan together and I've tried to be as diplomatic as possible, she can't seem to recognize that six year olds aren't little robots that will bend to her will.

Last week she even complained that she hated six year olds -- "I hate this age! I hated when my kids were this age!" were her exact words. Now, in the job posting it clearly said grade one French Immersion so most people could surmise that she would be teaching little kids. What frightens me is that she just wants to barrel through her lessons without regard for the needs of her class. I don't have a ton of experience teaching primary aged children, but I can acknowledge when my students need to have some free time. And yes, she's a mom. I honestly thought that someone that has parented two children that were once six years old could be a little more patient.

Oh yeah, she also makes basic mistakes when she speaks French, but I won't get into that here.

It's going to be a long year.

5. I miss my friends from my old school. Although my new staff is really great and supportive (staff that my teaching partner hasn't made an effort to meet, btw), it's been a difficult adjustment. I'm experiencing the growing pains that my class is, but I'm not stabbing anyone in the arm with a pencil!

Friday was a PD day so my girlfriends from my old school paid me a visit Friday afternoon when their meetings were done. They helped me do a couple things in my classroom while I planned with my teaching partner (who seemed kinda pissy that my girlfriends were there, have I mentioned that she's also pretty miserable?). It was fun to show them my new classroom and to see familiar faces. The pedicure also helped my spirits!

6. My back is feeling much better from my fall at the cottage. It took a couple visits to the chiropractor (who I'm making rich with my clumsiness!) and taking it easy at yoga. It was a pretty painful few days of school, but I don't even notice the pain when I'm teaching! I think my body is telling me that I need to take it easy while I'm learning my new position.

7. My cycle seems to have gone back to "normal". My period lasted seven days (down from fourteen a couple of months ago!) and for all of your Creighton Model people out there, I've had three dry days! I've never used so many green stickers! I finished my low dose antibiotics that my doctor put me on for my ureaplasma and aside from the yeast infection, I've really noticed a difference. I've also started taking Low Dose Naltrexone to combat the brown bleeding and spotting. I'm less than a week away from giving myself the HCG injections, but I'm not scared at all since it actually worked! Could we really be almost ready to actually TTC again? It seems like my body is starting to show me that it's ready to actual function the way it's supposed to!

8. I had an interesting conversation with one of my friends from church today. Mr. JB and I returned to our parish to celebrate the blessing of our new statue (the old one was vandalized a couple of years ago and the replacement was just installed and it's beautiful!) since we attended our regular earlier mass. We're become very active members of our church since we were married three years ago -- I'm on a few committees, he's a Knight of Columbus, we're ushers, so we know quite a few people. I was talking to one of my friends from the Social Justice Committee and I joked that we should probably have a baby so we can get out of some of our commitments (this is something that Mr. JB and I have talked about many, many times). Well, my friend B said, "You know only God can make a baby. It took M and I five years to have our first." And the lady that we were standing in said, "Don't worry, you still have time. You've only been trying for three years, you're not ready yet."

I'm taking this as a positive sign.

I really hope that all of my rambling made sense. I send hugs and love to all of you and although I may not be commenting on your blogs, I'm trying my best to keep up.

Now I'm off to plan out some fun math activities! Hopefully this upcoming week will be better than the last two!

p.s. I've recently discovered that I can drink white wine again. I may have been indulging quite a bit since school has started. Woohoo!

p.p.s. The news of Sarah McLachlan's marriage breaking up has gotten me really sad. I think that she's a phenomenal artist. I don't usually get caught up in celebrity romances, but I think it's her Canadian-ness that makes me feel like she's part of my family. Her last studio album, Afterglow, was released around the time I met Mr. JB and it coincided with a really happy time in both of our lives. I wanted our first dance at our wedding to be her song, Push, but we ended up choosing another song. It's too bad that she didn't find her happy ending when I did.


  1. I think as the school year goes on, things will get easier with your 6 year olds. They will learn how to act (hopefully) and you will learn how to deal with them.

    And you aren't out of time, the timing just isn't right yet, I suppose.

  2. Yeah, I'd face a lecture hall filled with undergrads before I'd take on half the number of six-yr-olds you're teaching--in a heartbeat! I'm absolutely sure that you'll find the best way of reaching them and helping them learn. I bet it will be less taxing as the year goes on, too.

    Good news on your cycle. I hope things continue to progress.

  3. OH, I know, the Sarah MacLachlan news is SO sad :( She's my very favorite contemporary singer... sigh.

    As for your cycles, that is AWESOME! The NaPro Conference concentrated a lot on the benefits of LDN and hCG for your specific problems, so I'm glad it is helping you so much!

    As for your 1st graders, you found the secret!! Guilt!! Lol... that's what I used with my K-ers all the time, when they acted out. "Oh, Miss 'P' is so sad right now." I know that same trick doesn't work on 4th graders, though, so you'll have to give me some tips for handling them for CCD!

    Glad to see you're doing well- both physically and professionally.

  4. Wow, that's quite a job you've got there! And it sounds like you're really good at it. I can't believe the other teacher keeps them in at recess!!! Is she nuts?

    So cool that things are looking good with cycles, too. I'll be doing my own hCG shots this cycle while my husband's on a business trip, and I may try the ice cube trick this time!