Friday, September 26, 2008

What a Week

I rarely let so much time go by between postings, but this week left me very little time to do much of anything.

Of course there was the normal school stuff to deal with. In addition to the "normal" stuff, we're doing a new thing this year called Reading Mastery. I attended training the week before school started and I immediately thought to myself "OVERWHELMING!"

Sure, it's all scripted and the script and what you show the kids is all in one book (bad idea, in my opinion, but they never asked me what I thought) so that should make it easy, right? Throughout the scripts, there is regular black print. There is also bold print. There is also italic print. And there is also blue print.

I think I have a learning disability of some type because try as I might, I just can't seem to teach from that. I have had to take each lesson and retype it completely, so that I can understand it. I've also put the student part on a separate sheet, and I've made up individual student sheets with the sounds or words that we cover each day. The kids keep those in their folders and we practice them for a few minutes each day. It takes me an hour to prepare for each 45 minute lesson.

If you're any good at math, you can figure that that's five hours a week of planning, not even counting the prep for my regular reading intervention classes, or math inclusion classes (the math doesn't take very long at all, but the reading does). About two weeks ago I was asked to teach an additional class of Reading Mastery. Hey, that's great...I'm already spending a ton of time on the plans, might as well get more use out of them.

But nothing is that simple...oh no. The additional class is a different level. So now that's at least TEN hours of planning for Reading Mastery only, in addition to my other stuff.

And then there's the fact that I had to take on a 40 minute duty EVERY SINGLE DAY. So while every other teacher (except one) has 75 minutes of duty a week, I have 275. The other reading intervention teacher has 175 minutes a week. My extra duty is not a difficult duty in the least. All I do is collect lunch money from third and fourth graders and mark each child's order on classroom sheets, HOWEVER, it starts at 7:15 (when I am required to arrive at school, but I come in a little earlier than that) and runs until 7:55, and my first class starts at 8:00. That gives me practically NO planning time in the morning. My principal had scheduled a 15 minute break in for me in the middle of each morning, but my second Reading Mastery class made me lose an intervention class and give up the break. I rarely go into the lounge at lunchtime because I'm busy working on my plans. I also have cafeteria duty twice a week. I really don't want to start anything with the union as far as this is concerned, because things usually have a way of working themselves out. Many times I've had to leave a little early for a doctor's appointment and my principal has not had me fill out an absence sheet. She's very good about that, as long as it's not taken advantage of.

Two evenings this past week I was not feeling well at all. I had terrible chills and was sitting in the recliner in the bedroom covered with 3 or 4 blankets from about 5:30 pm on. Both times I was feeling much better by morning, thank goodness, but those two nights had me completely out of commission. Last night I ended up staying at school until after 8 pm working on my plans.

I've still got a little work to do (a couple hours worth) to be ready for next week, but hopefully I'll get to it tomorrow.

The bad part is that we were told that we're only doing this Reading Mastery for two years. So all the planning that I'm doing will be good for this year and next year. Then we'll probably have to learn something entirely new...whatever the newest thing is that is supposed to get every child reading on grade level.

Enough ranting for now....we've been having some landscaping done this past week and we are so thrilled with how it's turning out. I've got some pictures on my camera and will try to post them this weekend. They're not quite finished, but the difference is absolutely amazing!

We were originally going to spend Labor Day weekend putting in plants, etc. ourselves. (Okay, so I was just going to direct things from the pool, but you get my drift.) Then we couldn't find any plans that we really liked and don't know enough about all of this to really make something look nice. That's when Ted said to call a local family owned landscaping company. I called and within a week and a half they had been here twice to talk to us about what we had in mind, take pictures and measurements, drawn up a very nice plan and met with us to go over it.

While we were sitting at the kitchen table with the plan laid out in front of us, I commented to them and Ted that I felt like I was on HGTV! It was great seeing everything that we had mentioned laid out in a great plan. Our primary request was low maintenance and they've definitely kept that in mind.

They also added an "artificial boulder" to cover up some electrical thing for the light inside the deep end of the pool. I told them that it's really just a "fake rock" but when they use the term "artificial boulder" they can charge more for it. We've known the family for many years, so we can get away with teasing them a little.

The guys that have been here working have been great! They've been working hard, and staying until around 6 pm every day. They clean up their messes, no loud yelling (at least while I'm here), no loud radios, and they're very nice. One guy is extremely talented when it comes to putting pavers in, and that's what he's been spending a lot of time on. We could have gone with concrete or pavers, and we really liked the pavers, so that's what we decided on.

Last weekend, very little laundry got done due to cleaning up the pool and other stuff, so this weekend that's going to have to be a top priority. I had no idea that four people could create so many dirty laundry!

Well, that's about it from here...sorry about the school rant, but sometimes it helps to just go on and on about it!


PERBS said...

I can hardly wait for the pictures!

The Arthur Clan said...

My sister is a special needs Middle School teacher in Ohio and I am always amazed by the amount of extra outside work she has to do to make her classes run efficiently. It sure seems like the "higher-ups" know how to take advantage of a teacher's desire to help her students as much as she can.

I admire you for the time and effort you are putting in to helping these kids succeed.

Angie in OH