Saturday, August 30, 2008

Today is the first day of the rest of your life...

Look at the pretty flowers sent to my office at school on August 28th from 5 secret admirers...

Aren't they beautiful? Aren't I lucky?

Friday, August 29, 2008

How cool is my school?

Today was the last day of spirit week here at Dixon Middle School. Our colors are blue and gold (go DPHS! Wahoo!). Our school was asked by the mayor of Provo to help the community commemorate "Wear your favorite college's color" day. The kids didn't know about it until they came out to the field in the last fifteen minutes of school during a fire drill. The mayor came and spoke to the students and invited a special guest...COSMO! He is the mascot of BYU. He ran around giving high fives and hugs and was a very popular guest.

NOW THIS IS THE BEST PART! They had all the kids line up on the field in the formation of DMS so the airplane above could see them and the SKY-DIVERS could jump and land in the proper location!! One sky-diver had a BYU flag, one had a UVU flag, and one had the USA flag. They did flips and landed on the field right in front of the kids! All at our middle school! It was seriously awesome. And the BYU jumper was FINE. I got close to talking to him but then freaked out. It was a party at Dixon :-).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I sure didn't see THAT one coming!

One of my students came in after school to my office and said, "Are you Mormon?" I replied, "Yes" to which she answered, "I was just wondering because one of my friends in one of your other classes told me that you had a belly button ring." I reassured her that my belly button was not pierced and that I would never show my belly in class. I guess a button on my pants must have looked like a belly button ring under my shirt! Kids really do examine the lives of their teachers! I need to be so careful about what I do and say to make sure I never, ever lead these precious lives by my example down a path that would lead them to unhappiness. I'm so glad I could tell her with TOTAL CONFIDENCE that my belly button was not pierced :-).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Service Oriented Students

Well, ladies and happened. I knew it might, but wasn't sure considering I teach a younger audience. But I should know better than to underestimate the power of a female mind, even if it is a 13 year old one.

Let me give you some background before I tell you about the "it" I am referring to. On the first day of school, I gave the kids a chance to ask me any questions. Pretty much the only three questions asked in every class were, "Do you have pets?" and, in one breath, "Are you married and do you have any kids?" 3 cats in California and single. No kids. Easy enough to answer.

So today, two giggling girls came up to me today. One said, "How do you feel about blind dates?" and the other said, "This was HER idea!" So as it turns out, one of my students has an older brother. The friend of this student (also one of my students) took it upon herself to ask the older brother if he would go on a blind date with their choir teacher. The sister was a bit mortified to ask, but the friend had it all planned out. I asked how old the brother was, and soon realized that older is older to younger people and there isn't much that distinguishes one old age from another. Should I be flattered that they want to set me up with her 22 year-old-brother? I asked if he dates older women, without revealing my age. They said they thought so and that he always dates someone in the childhood education career so they "took it as a sign."

Wow. WOW.

Here are pictures of my home away from home :-). Before you look at these pictures too closely, let me bring to your attention the fact that they were taken on casual Friday (which is why I'm in jeans and a Dixon Middle School polo) and that it was the end of the day so my hair, which was once in a casual ponytail, looked like...a mess. Okay, that being said, here is a four picture tour of my classroom.

Picture #1: This is my office. My student teaching mentor got a kick out of seeing my office because I was such a neat freak during my student teaching and now...well, see for yourself. I am having some organizational problems.

Picture #2: Here is my classroom! Thanks, Em, for the lovely bulletin board. I got lucky to move into a classroom that already had a cute one :-).

Picture #3: This is the poster my brother gave me for my birthday about 4 or 5 years ago, around the time I started the music ed program at BYU. It now hangs on my office door. Thanks, Joe!

Picture #4: Here is my door and my name plaque which you can't read in this picture. Again, thanks, Em, for the rocking Broadway posters and little Broadway lights. Emily had made the classroom so cute last year that I didn't have to do much! And, Broadway is my absolute favorite thing, so it couldn't have been more perfect!

Last but CERTAINLY not least: Here is my beautiful little sis who is the same age as the kids I teach (8th grade, as she is showing. It took me forever to figure out why she was holding up eight fingers when my mom sent me this picture!!).

Monday, August 25, 2008

Be careful what you promise...

Today I was determined to learn all my students' names. It's really difficult to run class when you don't know your kids' names. So, I did a game where I went around the room and they got a point for every name I got wrong. I played with 5 of my classes who all won of course. I let them choose what they wanted for winning, within reason. First period asked me to sing a broadway song for them. Second period wanted me to...get this...sing Barney's "I love you" while doing sit-ups. Your wish is my command, second period. Third period wanted brownies and fourth and fifth period wanted doughnuts. Now, my classes each have an average of around 35 kids. So I called up good old Crispy Creme to see how much around 70 doughnuts woud be for 4th and 5th period. It was going to total over $40.00! I am so broke right now it's not even funny. So I had to go to plan B...and my kids are going to hate me for this, I already know. I went to the grocery store and got those little doughnut minis from Hostess. I know, I know, LAME!! I'm embarrassed about it. But I think they each can have two...does that count?

So I didn't notice my fly was down during 7th period until a few giggling girls tried to discreetly point it out to me. Everyone was asking, "What happened?" so I just put my notebook over my front and said, "My fly is down. We'll talk about the assignment after I go to my office for a minute." Great. Way to go Miss Houston!

Highlight of the Day:

I took the hem out of my new teacher pants during lunch. I feel SO much more hip now with pants that aren't floods!

Friday, August 22, 2008

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again!

Today was better. I'm back to loving what I do!

Highlights from today:

In one of my classes, a student from a different period came in and shoved a folded note on my piano and then walked quickly out of the class. After a few minutes, I read it quickly and my heart melted. He told me he was really, really, really sorry for the way he acted in class the previous day and he hoped we could still be friends. That made teaching worth it...right there on that folded up piece of notebook paper in little misspelled words, signed with "love." Now that's something you won't get with high school kids! These 7th graders still have such a beautiful innocence!

I wrote a desperate email yesterday to my mentor teacher from my student teaching, Lois Johnson. I just needed some positive vibes sent my way. Well, guess who showed up to my classroom today after school? Lois! With a folder full of lessons for a music appreciation class (a class I teach that I've been struggling with). Lois to the rescue! I was so surprised and so grateful. I feel so blessed! My prayers were answered today.

The other hero of the day was Dad Houston, who came after school to fix all my broken piano benches (around 6 total!), fix my broken drawers, and just plain take care of his daughter! How did I get so lucky?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So I'm SERIOUSLY considering another profession. Dentist? Professional student? Viola player? Any suggestions?


In a pinch and on a whim, while trying to win over a few students who don't love choir, I played clips of Michael Buble and Zach Efron and asked them to compare the two voices. I think that was pushing it...

Highlight of today:

I was teaching one of my 7th grade choir classes a round. We split in to 3 groups and sang it through several times. After the 5 minute bell rang, I let the kids stay in their seats and talk until the dismissal bell rang. One of the kids in the back shouted, "Can't we just keep singing?!" Wow, talk about music to a choir teacher's ears! I tried not to breathe for fear of ruining the moment. We got funky and split the round in to 4 parts in the last few minutes before the bell rang.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The beginning of my journey!

The first day of school rocked my world!  As a teacher of 7th grade students (I have 4 periods of 7th graders and 2 periods of 8th graders), I had to participate in a couple skits at a 7th grade assembly.  The first was all the faculty in a random assortment of goggles, inner-tubes, lobster claws, mermaid pants, etc. for an exciting rendition of "Under the Sea."  I really don't think any of the kids were laughing as we danced back and forth across the stage behind the "water," but we sure thought it was hilarious!  Kids this age are a bit harder to entertain I suppose.  Our next skit got a better response.  Thanks to my DPHS leadership skills, I was able to help my group of 7th grade teachers come up with a skit that had blurbs from popular songs.  We all started out with our backs to the audience and turned around one at a time, lip-synching words from the song, "I'm Feeling Good" by Michael Buble.  Then, we took the kids on a "sea-voyage" (our group is called "The Mariners") and introduced each teacher with different music.  It was fun.  We tried to use "hip" music...but let's be honest, what do I know about hip music? Half my kids said their favorite artist was Chris Brown, and I can't even identify one thing he's written!  We ended up using a little Carrie Underwood, Disney (hey, I wanted to make sure they knew the songs, okay?!), Wicked (personal indulgence), and of course, High School Musical.

Highlight from the day today (August 20th). 

We were doing a "getting to know you" activity and the students were to interview one another and tell the class about the person they interviewed. One question they were supposed to ask was, "Where were you born?" One worried little boy came up to me and said, "On the paper, I said I was born in American Fork [Utah] but I asked my mom and she said I was born in Spanish Fork [Utah]!" I assured him that he didn't need to worry about his oversight :-).  It wasn't worth big points anyway!

The start of something new...

Inspired by my good friend Phil, I decided that kids are too funny to let their stories go untold. The life of teaching is too dynamic to act like every day is normal.  So, I'm starting a blog to share with my friends and family the truth about middle school kids: they are hilarious.  Sometimes they make me want to jump right out of my skin because I'm afraid I might run out of the room and quit teaching forever! But those moments are few and far between and the truth of the matter is, I'm doing what I've always wanted to do.  I'm just getting broken in :-).  So, hold on to your hats and join me on my ride through middle school...let's see where it takes us, shall we?