Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fortunately...Unfortunately...

In elementary school, I remember doing an assignment where we copied the style of a book our teacher read out loud to us. My blog post today will be in the same format.

  • Fortunately, my classroom wasn't hot today.
  • Unfortunately, they can't control the cold air yet and it got so cold that I had to move to another room during girls ensemble.
  • Fortunately, an attractive young man was assigned to work with me as a pre-student teacher from BYU.
  • Unfortunately (for me), he is married with one child and another on the way.
  • Fortunately, I finished grading a stack of papers from Friday.
  • Unfortunately, I have a whole new stack of papers to grade from today.
  • Fortunately, most of my students are kind, energetic, funny, and excited to participate in class.
  • Unfortunately, one student is extremely rude to me and makes fun of other students with disabilities (like a severe speech impediment or social problems). I even got a parent email today regarding this student bullying her son in my class, and I didn't even realize it was going on (though I knew he was being a punk to others). More than anything, I can't stand meanness and I won't tolerate it. Oh, it makes my blood boil!! It kills me on behalf of those poor, sweet kids who are being targeted.
  • Fortunately, I had time to make it to the gym tonight!
  • Unfortunately, I was feeling blah and justified not going. Go, me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I laughed, I cried...

Today's Highlights:
  • Getting air back in to my classroom! Today I experienced one of my most grateful moments.
  • Singing, "Fish and Chips and Vinegar/One Bottle of Pop/Don't Chuck your Muck" with my 7th graders.
  • Having 3 special needs students in my class during 2nd period who were SO excited to be there participating with the class. One little guy who came could out-sing the whole class of 35 put together!
  • One of the peer tutors assigned to the special needs kids (and required to attend my class with them) was a boy who was a total jerk to me in 7th grade choir last year. He was a great contributor in making that class a living nightmare. He gets to sit through my entire class again but this time, can't say a single word. HA!
  • Watching "The Closer" online in my bed after school.
Low-lights:
  • Forgetting about the new "late-start Monday" teacher collaboration and working by myself in my office for 15 minutes before I remembered and showed up late.
  • Trying to figure out my role as a landlady for a unit with all boys.
  • Eating one cookie...then two...then three. Oops.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Heat Wave

I seriously can't take it.

The air conditioning in my classroom is broken. I have between 30-35 students during most periods of the day sitting together in close proximity. It's over 80 degrees in my room and there are no windows. It's like a prison in my own classroom where I have to spend hours every day. I almost started crying on the phone with my mom about it.

My students are AMAZING. I have the most talented group of kids I have ever seen in junior high school before! I hate how their learning is being affected by this terrible situation with the temperature in my classroom. I've got boys that sing!! It's wonderful. Let's hope we can get this resolved so they don't start associating misery with my classroom and therefore misery with music. That would be heart breaking.

Yesterday at back to school night, I had an odd experience. A father came in with his daughter to chat with me. I looked at the girl and thought, "I know I just met my students, but I really don't think she's in any of my classes." The dad said, "My daughter is in your choir class, but not this daughter." I said, "Oh, no wonder! I knew I didn't recognize her." The girl proceeds to tell me, "Yeah, but I had you for choir when I was in 8th grade." I look at her more closely and say, "I did?! What is your name?" She gives me her first and last name and there is still zero recognition in my brain. I said to her, "That's impossible." Then, remembering her dad was there and probably wouldn't like it if I implied she was crazy (or a pathological liar), I said, "Well, no, I'm sure you had me...I'm sorry, I've just had lots of students."

I HAVE NEVER HAD THAT GIRL.

I know I haven't. She even told me that she was in my 7th grade choir class as an 8th grader because she didn't take her music credit during 7th grade.

THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE.

I've only had one 8th grade student in a 7th grade class and I knew exactly who he was.

WHY WOULD SHE MAKE THAT UP?

How random is it that she would point to the choir seats as though she sat in one of them as my pupil when she was never a student of mine?

I AM NOT SO OLD THAT I WOULD COMPLETELY FORGET A STUDENT'S NAME AND FACE.

Sometimes I struggle to remember the name of some of my former students, but I always know their faces and I usually come up with the name later.

Wow. I just really didn't get that. Maybe the heat was getting to her, too...?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ready or not, here they come!

Today was the first day of school for all 7th graders! It was so fun to meet them all. On the first day of school, they are the most polite because they are completely dependent on you to help them figure out where their next class is, when lunch is, where the bathroom is, etc. They are also very quiet and attentive in class. It's probably one of my favorite days of the whole year! I feel like when I speak, they actually listen :-).

I have one student, however, who didn't show me any courtesy today. It makes me really nervous for the future, because the first day of school is when everyone is on their very best behavior.

For a getting to know you activity, I had students write three things about themselves on a piece of paper while I played the song, "Gravity" by Sarah Bareilles. I asked them to write a song they like, something interesting about themselves, and the kind of music they most enjoy. As they wrote, I came around and gave them a colored sticker. When the song ended, I gave away pencils to students who could name the singer, the song title, and what helped make the song famous (So You Think You Can Dance's addiction dance choreographed by Mia Michaels). Then, the kids got in to groups based on the color of their dot and shared their answers. This was an experiment, but I think it definitely helped kids talk to each other. Tomorrow, I'll have the green dots share with the whole class their answer to question one, the pink dots will share their answer to number two, and the blue dots will share their answer to number 3.

One funny moment happened when I asked a student if he was the sibling of a girl I taught 2 years ago. I have so many little brothers and sisters this year! That's my favorite. Anyway, he said to me, "Back then, did you used to wear a bun?" Does one wear a bun? I suppose of it's a fake hair bun. I had to ask him to repeat the sentence to make sure I heard correctly. His friends totally started laughing at him because apparently it's weird to ask a teacher about her hair...poor little guy! I tried to make it sound like that was a totally rationale thing to ask in the middle of class in front of 35 people.

Another thing that made me laugh was to see a paper come back to me with this written next to the girl's name: <3 .="" actual="" an="" br="" classic.="" didn="" draw="" drew="" facebook.="" heart.="" how="" it="" just="" no="" on="" or="" she="" t="" text="" type="" would="" you="">
Oh man, I saw some of the weirdest names today as I called roll for nearly 150 students. I wish I could share them, but I'm going to refrain for privacy reasons. But seriously, WOW.

Tomorrow, the new 8th graders come. I'm excited to see my little 7th graders from last year! I had some former 8th graders stop by today, and they were excited to see their pictures on the buelliton board.

I really love the age group I work with. I don't know that I was 100% sold on it before I began, but I only grow to love it more and more.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Classroom Makeover

The bulletin board looked beautiful when I first started teaching at Dixon. Emily did a fabulous job, so I left the background just as it was for the past two years. It was time, however, to redo it. Kids had ripped the paper and pulled off the borders and there was writing all over it. I decided to focus the theme of my room this year on the kids' experiences in choir.

The bulletin board covers the past three years of choir. 2007-2008 is the first year represented. That was Emily's last year at Dixon. The kids love to look at the pictures and find older siblings and friends.

In the middle of the board is a (way over priced) calendar kids can refer to when wondering about concert dates and due dates.

I purposely left a big, blank spot under 2010-2011 to try to encourage my kids to make new memories that can be added to our wall.

I went to Costco and got tons of pictures blown up and I stuck them around the room. Kids love to look at pictures of themselves and people they know more than anything.

The wall of fame we put up last year. Kids can see how Dixon has done dating back as early as 2001.

At our school, we have to post our rules (mine are now going to be called "Houston House Rules")

and our discipline plan:

I did a literacty training this summer that inspired me to change my curriculum to focus the entire semester on answering just one question, which I posted in the front of my classroom.


Daniel saved my life when he came one summer day and helped me clean out my office and reorganize it so it wasn't so suffocating! There are no windows, so the environment was stressful. It's hard to tell from this picture, but there is a lot more space (behind where the desk chair is). We moved out an entire table and tons of junk. Please notice the chair by the desk (with a plastic bin under it). That is the conference chair if I ever have to pull one of my students in for a little chat. The bin underneath holds already graded assignments that students didn't need to receive back. I keep them until the end of the term and then dump the bin.

Thanks to Tina and Daniel and all those who helped me get my classroom looking more organized! I think I'm ready to begin.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Proverbs 13:12

12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Do you ever have one of those moments where someone asks you what your most embarrassing moment is and you just can't think of one in particular, even though you know you've had a million?

Well, let it be known, on this day, the 14th of August, that I had my most embarrassing moment.

Are you curious?

It all started when I had a dream a few nights ago that I was a surrogate for Kate and Darren. In my dream, they were married and couldn't have children. So, I became a surrogate and was pregnant with their child.

No, that's not the embarrassing part yet.

Well, after I woke up, I sent Kate a text about my dream. She asked if it was a boy or girl, which I didn't know. I only got so far as the baby bump before I woke up. Then, she texted me and said, "Well thank you. Only a true friend would be a surrogate, even in a dream!" I thought that was hilarious and that was the end of the conversation.

Fast forward to this evening. I'm in Carrabas with Kate, Darren, Kate's mom, Darren's mom, Darren's sister and nieces, and Melissa. Darren is sitting across from Kate and next to me. We're all pleasantly enjoying our meals when randomly, I spin around in my chair to face Darren and say, "Did you hear that I'm carrying your baby?"

Let's pause for a moment to ask ourseves the following: On what PLANET does someone say that to someone

a) in public
b) to her roommate's fiancee
c) ever?

Let me try to defend myself...if that's possible. In my head, I thought Kate had already told Darren about the dream and that he would know what I was referring to.

Nope.

In my head, I thought Darren would somehow psychically read my mind and know I meant I was carrying THEIR baby.

Not a chance.

It definitely was as bad as it sounds. There was a moment of silence after I said it as we all tried to register the comment. Darren just looked at me and said something like, "What was that, again?"

Lucky for me, both Kate and Darren have great senses of humor. And also lucky for me, only our end of the table heard it (which didn't include the mothers).

Wow. Remind me never to go out in public again.

Happy Bridal Shower, Kate!

We initially had two ideas for Kate's shower: Tea party or garden party. Kate suggested that we combine the two ideas and have a garden tea party. A new style of bridal shower was born! It was so fun to see it all come together, especially when we weren't quite sure how is it was going to come together! Special thanks to Melissa's parents for letting us have it in their beautiful yard (and for letting us use their tables, chairs, tablecloths, serving dishes, etc.) and to Christina for helping Melissa and I immensely!

Party Favors (k + d)


Cupcakes from scratch a la Christina Pendleton






We used Melissa's mother's tea set from when she was a little girl to help make centerpieces, along with vines from her mom's garden.



Melissa made these amazing little goodies for guests to feast on. The sandwiches on the top are little tortilla rolls with lunch meats, cream cheese, and spinach. They are so good, and so perfect for a tea-party! The sandwiches on the bottom tier are topped with a cucumber and sprinkled with dill. They are to die for! Find the super easy recipe here.


Check out the fork holder. I love you Michael's Crafts.



Thanks, Tina, for the salad and beverage. My little sister rocks the world.


The bride to be!!


We played a shower game similar to the one we played at my friend Stephanie's shower. We added a different twist, however. We wrapped 10 gifts before the shower and put them on a table. They were things like a spatula, a syrup pitcher, a votive candle holder, stationary, etc. (ahem). If Kate answered a question correctly, she got to open a gift. If she got the question wrong, we drew a name out of a bowl and one of her guests got to open a gift. If, on her next turn, Kate liked the gift received by someone else better, she could steal it and the guest got to choose a different gift. It was a lot of fun, but Kate answered way too many of the questions correctly! No one minded, however, because after all, she is the bride!

One of the questions we asked Darren was, "What song best describes your relationship with Kate?" Darren picked the song that we then featured in the slide show below. It's called, "In for a Ride" by the Matt Lewis Band.

video

It was a beautiful morning and we had a wonderful time with many of Kate's nearest and dearest (although there are several of you who are far away that we missed so much...you know who you are!).

Next stop on the bridal shower train: Tessa May's shower over Labor Day Weekend!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

If you want to be happy for the rest of your life...

Marvin K. Ashton gave an excellent talk to singles in 1992 called, "Be a Quality Person." So many things hit me over the head like a ton of bricks as I thought about what I can do to lead a more meaningful life as a not-as-young-as-I-used-to-be-but-still-somewhat-young-single adult. He referenced the following:

I like the observations made by Karen Lynn Davidson in her excellent book, Thriving on Our Differences: “I have yet to see marriage, by itself, turn an unhappy person into a happy person. A really happy married person is almost always one who was or could have been happy as a single person.” (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990, p. 39.)

What an inspiring goal! I want to be a happy single person so that someday, I can be a happy married person.

I'm a firm believer that marriage is a wonderful part of life and something to look forward to. However cynical I sometimes feel about love, I never doubt the pure joy that a union of two can bring.

But marriage isn't a starting point where happiness is concerned. The joy that comes from marriage builds on a foundation already established by each person in the relationship. If there isn't a firm foundation of happiness to build upon, everything crumbles.

So don't worry...be happy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Happy Twenty-Something Birthday, Katia!

Kate and I lived on the same floor our freshman year in college. Here are just a very few of our many friendship stats:

Total, we have lived in four different places* in Provo together...

Helaman Halls, 2001-2002



Hampton Court 2004-2005


Millrace, 2009-2010

*Missing pics from Hampstead, summer of 2008

been to one American Idol concert and one American Idol taping together...

Kate and Danny Goke, AI concert 2009



Outside A.I. taping in L.A., 2010


hosted many parties together...
House warming party, 2009



Melissa's surprise party, 2009



Shelley's bridal shower, 2009



Tessa's birthday group date, 2010

been bridesmaids in 1 (almost 2!) weddings together...


Briana and Nate's wedding, 2008


Trying on dresses for Tessa and Paul's wedding (2011)


been to another country together...

Prince Edward Island, Canada, 2009


Taken a California road trip together...

(I'm not pictured, but that's my car as proof that I was there)


Seen two off-Broadway musicals together...



Mama Mia, 2009



Dream Girls, 2010

Been to three different beaches together...


Santa Barbara




Huntington Beach


Prince Edward Island


And we have many more memories left to make!


Happy birthday, Ms. Sonne
(Soon to be Mrs. Myler)!