Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I made it!!

I finally made it to the end of my very first semester!! (well not technically since the semester if after break, but I made it to Christmas break!!) My first semester was fantastic and more than I could have imagined. The kids were amazing and I got a ton of gifts that I definitely didn't deserve! I have pictures that I need to upload later, but I'm currently busy playing with all my Christmas toys that I got today!! 

We leave on Friday for California so I wanted to have time to update before then! Hopefully when I get back, I can do a full blog on pictures from Cali and Cousin Christmas!! 

As for now, I'm enjoying my break: sleeping in, almost finished my 2nd book, and drinking lots of coffee by the fire!!  Merry Christmas to everyone whether you're celebrating today or Saturday!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Might Cause Crying...

I was able to be a part of the most incredible experience earlier this year with my middle school. One of our special ed students who is completely non-verbal was a part of our 7th grade football team. He has the mental capacity of about a 4-5 year old, but he absolutely loves football. He can memorize plays like a pro!! He stood on the sideline all season and his job was to hand the ball to the ref when he needed it. He took this job so seriously and it was precious. There were many special ed teachers who gave up a lot of time for him to be able to do this. Since he is non-verbal, there had to be a special-ed teacher with him at all times for practice and games. Rhonda Miller took on a lot of the responsibility as his main teacher. At the last home game of the season, in the 2nd half, on the first play - Tyler Francis got to play in the game. The coaches worked it out with the other school and it was amazing. They had designated students to help him run all the way there (it was about 60 yards) and he had even been practicing a "victory dance." The news was going to cover this, but after seeing how much support the entire school gave him, they decided to come to our school and film for a day. Many of my students are featured in the segment that aired Sunday on Newy Scruggs "Out of Bounds" show.

It was an inspiring moment and I am very proud of my school and the people that work in it.

Enjoy. Tyler's Touchdown Story

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for the Break!!!

Thanksgiving Break is finally here!! I am very relieved to say I have made it this far without any crazy happenings in my classroom, but I am very thankful to have a break for a week! I'm using this week to do nothing but recover, catch up on sleep, and try and complete my Christmas shopping! The week leading up to the break was a little hectic, but very fun! We ended the week with the student/faculty volleyball game! All of my girls were so excited to "see me play" and one of my boys told me, "I thought you were ordinary, I didn't know you were good!!!"  
One of my favorite parts of any week is every other Wednesday. We have study groups for our subjects during our study hall time period.When the English teachers have their "PLC" time, it cuts out a majority of the teachers, since they are double blocked. That always leads to this <-- approximately 60 students in my classroom at the end of the day for 25 minutes. I try to keep them all seated, but it's always a bundle of fun!! It is a wonderful time to hear lots of drama and learn all sorts of new things about the students!
 On Thursday, StuCo put up hand turkeys around the school, the students could choose to write a turkey for a teacher and place it on their door. This was one of my favorites that I received!! For every student that drives me insane, there is one that makes my job worthwhile! 
  One of my favorite activities that I have done so far is more of a reward for the students. In my on-level classes we were wrapping up our Integers unit. In one of my earlier blogs I put up a picture of my racecar activity. We did this as well in my on-level, but sometimes they can use a little extra push. So I told them if they got an 80 or above on their Integer test, they would receive an Integer's Drivers License to drive and operate on the Integer Highway in Math!! :) So, I created a License and had each one laminated. I presented them to the students and I think they really enjoyed them! (If a student made below an 80, they had to correct their   test and then they would get their license!)

A very special treat was delivered to me on Thursday as well! The PTA gives a pumpkin pie to every single teacher at my school! Being new to HMS, I had no idea and was quite delightfully surprised when they brought it to my room! I am very blessed to have an awesome PTA who are constantly doing things for the teachers to make their day. This is definitely part of that! It was delicious, and I might already be looking forward to next year!! :)

Last, but not least, Friday started the 7th grade basketball season! My girls were very excited, so I stayed Friday and worked the games for them. We have some room to improve: all 3 teams lost and the score of the A team game was 28 - 0. Yes, they did not even score 1 point!! ha It was quite comical and very hard not to laugh at certain things (C team scored a basket for the other team, oops!!). They are all learning the sport, and have many more things to learn. Kellie was keeping notes and seriously wrote down: "Don't touch the ball when you're stepping out of bounds." Whenever I start coaching, I expect all of you to come to my games. Feel free to make fun of whatever!! :) 
21 is one of my favorite students, if I had a favorite!!
I hope everyone else enjoys the time they get off to spend with their families!! It's amazing to have a day where we can just sit and think about everything we are thankful for. 
"I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose." - Woody Allen
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sweatpants to Middle School?

Tomorrow is a wonderful day of standardized testing (which I'm not even going to get started on)... it's also a day of mandatory fitness testing. Since I am so fit (ha!), they have asked me to work one of the stations. Therefore, I get to wear athletic pants all day tomorrow!! Yay!!

I'm also being evaluated on Wednesday for my PDAS! This is my one-time evaluation for the entire school year. This determines (not solely, but a big part of) if my contract is renewed or not. So... no pressure, right? Thank goodness I'm used to being observed and I do not really get nervous. I have made sure that my powerpoint is awesome for that day and then we're playing exponent BINGO! It should be a fun day, and I've already threatened all the kids with their lives!! :)  

There is one more situation that was brought to my attention today. One of those situations that, as a teacher, you have to be very careful about. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do, but I want to make sure the situation is handled appropriately. The students well being is obviously at the fore front of my mind, and I'm going to focus on that for now. I am hoping that it turns out to be nothing. 

This Friday is the end of the 2nd 6 weeks! I've officially made it through one third of the school year!! With Thanksgiving and Christmas rapidly approaching I'm sure things will get crazy, but I'll have lots of breaks to get through it!! I am very Thankful for my JOB; I love it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"My dog seriously ripped up my homework."

So as Hannah very graciously pointed out to me, I NEED to update my blog! I apologize. 

My title comes from an email I got this afternoon from a student that simply stated, "Ms. Lindstrom, this is Bobby J. from 2nd period. My dog seriously ripped up my homework, can you send me another copy?" As Math Team was meeting in my room, I had to contain my laughter to a minimum. I could just see this student writing 'my dog ripped up...' then backspacing and... 'my dog seriously ripped up..'. HA! I, of course, sent him another copy and told him I was glad he thought to email me for a new copy! I love 7th graders! 

These past couple weeks have just been great! They go by so quickly and I'm already starting to think about 2nd six week report cards. Unfortunately, I had to fail 2 students for this progress report, so I'm making my parent contacts and letting them know if nothing changes, there student will fail for the six weeks. I, honestly, think it is very difficult to fail my class. I take a majority of completion homework grades and I grade the in-class assignments; it's the students who aren't turning in weekly warm-ups (that we do together), that I have zero sympathy for. The best line was the student who hasn't turned in the past 7 homeworks, 3 warm ups, and made a 46 on the last test because of it. After he received his report card he came in my room and said, "Ms. Lindstrom!!! Why are you failing me???" I had a fantastic teacher response of, "You are failing yourself, sweetheart!" I love when good teacher lines just naturally come to me, because they always have no response. 

Besides that, I'm just rockin and rollin! I will say I'm looking forward to next year already when the majority of my planning will already be completed and I can just look back and make minor adjustments. I spend so much time on everything, and I'm already anxious to see the turn around because of it. I would definitely not mind prayers for patience right now. :) 

And of course: 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Blessings, Blessings, Blessings

These past 2 weeks since I've posted have been fantastic! I've gotten to implement several activities that I've really been looking forward to! During my outside activity, the middle math coordinator came to watch probably my most difficult class.... so no pressure there!! They actually did very well, and even made it through the entire thing. Below is a picture of my huge diagram. When Clancy and I did it at Baylor we made a duck-tape diagram and did it during a huge career carnival. I was happy to have the chance to use just chalk on the tennis courts, but it took me forever to draw three of them. In the end, it was definitely worth it though!! The kids loved being outside - duh!! - and it's even better when they have fun using their math.

So the purpose of this activity is to practice order and comparing rational numbers. I had 6 different sets of cards and the kids have to meet different people at the stars. They then have to compare their number and the  
                                                                 larger number always goes left. If they've 
 done it correctly, when they get to the end of the diagram, they will always be in order from least to greatest! My accelerated kids really enjoyed everything (except for the small distraction of a rather large caterpillar during 2nd period). ha My students really are such a blessing in my life and I can't help but think about God hand picking each of them to be in my classroom. It's a pretty amazing thing.

So, if you did not already know - the Rangers are in the second round of the play offs!!! And since it only happens once in 40 years, on Friday we celebrated as teachers!! Our awesome assistant principal grilled hot dogs for us and for lunch we had hot dogs, chips, and lots of desserts! There were a ton of us wearing our Ranger shirts and only one teacher who had the audacity to wear a Yankee shirt!! ha It was such a nice break and a super way to end the week! I'm so happy to be working at a school that will do things like that for their teachers.
So during class on Friday, I wanted to do something fun/baseball related as well. So we played baseball with our homework sheet for the majority of the period! It was kind of just something I made up and went with as the day went on, and ended up being a really cool idea! I was pretty proud of my baseball diamond I drew on the board and the kids came up with their own team names (hence the Pickles and the Smores). 

I'm now friends with several of my teacher friends on facebook and when I posted these most recent pictures, our librarian commented on them of how much I am a blessing to all of them. But I definitely believe that they are the blessing to me. I cannot believe how smooth of a transition it has been and how everyone has accepted me. I seriously come home thinking how lucky I am to have my job, love my job, and keep growing everyday. 

On a little side note.... my first illustrator decided a couple weeks ago, that my project was too big for him. I was very disappointed and had no clue where to go from there. But just like always, another door opened and through a friend of mine have gotten in touch with another artist. We have emailed a couple times and are setting up a meeting to go more in depth about exactly how I want my illustrations to look! I have my fingers crossed that this time will work! 
God is so good.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why I do what I do

Today we were doing a scavenger hunt. After just explaining it to my first period, I could tell they were having trouble just understanding the concept of how to do a scavenger hunt. I stopped them in the middle of the activity and asked if they had ever done a scavenger hunt before. Every single one of them said no!!! None of my kids had ever done a scavenger hunt before! And then one of my girls replied with "None of our other teachers made math fun like you do." 
I am spending so much time completely re-doing my curriculum and getting rid of all the worksheets, but comments like that make it SO worth it!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

In the Swing of Things...

I have definitely reached the point of the school year where everything just seems normal now. I don't really feel like the "new" teacher, and I like that!! I've settled into all procedures and am used to what days I need to complete things and when I need to be ready for the next week. I am into the routine of sending out my newsletter on Monday mornings and for the most part entering grades at least once a week.

I went to my first 7th grade football game last week! It was sooo much fun! I've heard all about how the parents this year are so intense and we have several dads that come to practices with clipboards and take notes on their own sons. It was amazing how much just going to a game for 20 minutes meant to the kids! I loved hearing "Ms. Lindstrom!!" "Hi Ms. Lindstrom!!!" It's exciting to be able to make the kids feel special just by saying hello! Here's a picture of the little ones playing!!

Ta-duhh!! Here is my very first yearbook picture as a teacher!!! Haha I'm wearing my Heritage Middle School shirt (not that you can really see any of it). It's kinda weird to see it, and I do intend to buy a yearbook every year I teach. I think it will be very cool to look back over all the years starting with year 1! It was funny to watch all the kids' reaction to their own photos. I just kept trying to imagine what my picture was in 7th grade and how much I now despise that picture, but at the time I picked out my outfit about a week before!! ha ohhh middle school..

Even though we just submitted progress reports, we are already having to pick our star students for the 6 weeks.. there are all different things we get to choose, but one of the things I get to do personally is pick out 2 of my students. These students are not necessarily the best academic students but the students who always have a smile on their face and display awesome character traits! Their lockers will be decorated with these stars and I've written on a note on the back just saying how much I appreciate them always doing what they're supposed to be doing! My girl is in my first period and is always willing to participate and just always brightens my mornings! My boy for this 6 weeks is in my 5th period with one of my most immature students I have. While I get frustrated with one student, this student sits behind him and sometimes will correct him or maybe he just stands out to me because he's always prepared and ready! So these are my stars for the 1st 6 weeks:
I think the most challenging part of teaching the accelerated class is these kids are SO used to just doing the problems as fast as they can. They do not care how they do it or what shortcut they use, they just want to know it. At Baylor we learned, very well, to teach students "the why behind the rule" and that is how I teach. So today, when I am teaching them adding/subtracting integers, they want to know why they cannot just "add the opposite." In each class I asked them, well why are you adding the opposite? and no one had an answer for me! So finally in the last class I replied with, "because your last teacher said so?" and they all were like yes!! I really think this is the most frustrating thing because I cannot change how other teachers teach, but I do not want to just teach my kids a rule to learn. They will know why they're doing the math - whether they like it or not!! :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

What? Progress Reports!?

It's progress report time already!! I have to have my grades in by the time I leave on Monday. This means I have brought home a TON of work to grade over the weekend. Not only that, but because our complete email server crashed last weekend I also have had to re-enter my 125 parent email addresses!! I just completed those and so I will be ready to send out my newsletter on Monday morning! Yesss! On top of everything today, I've had a migraine and had my first day where it really was a struggle to get through the entire day. I kept telling myself as long as I didn't get sick in the middle of class, I would be ok! :) I got home and immediately took my mom's big prescription pill and feel much better; however, I am probably going to sleep right after I finish writing this!

Next week are my first tests in both my accelerated class and on-level class!!!!! I am so excited to see how well the students do and I do understand some won't do well. I feel like I have taught everything to the best of my ability and it is the kids responsibility from here!! I am still loving everything and seriously have the best co-workers around me ever. I sat in on my first parent conference this morning. While one teacher is having more trouble than I am with a kid, she invited me to come just so I could be in one together before I had to do one alone! I've already learned parents will always make excuses, but we have to try and get them to tell us how we are going to work around the issues. My principal saw me in the hall and stopped me just to tell me what a great job I was doing! (It's always good to hear that, no matter how confident you are!!) One of my professional development ladies also came in this morning and she just kept telling me "what good authority I had over the classroom" and I had "such poise"..... I just kept thinking to myself... well I better have authority over them!!! ha 

I am very grateful for the opportunity to have a time in my life where I can soley focus on my career and totally being the best I can be. 

I have been in constant, constant communication with my possible illustrator this week over all sorts of details! I should have a test page by Monday and then hopefully I can make a decision if he will be my official illustrator. So far, I have really liked his in-depth questions for me and how he's incorporating me into everything. I don't think of myself as an author so I've kind of said do whatever, but the more questions he asks, the more I realize I do know exactly what I want!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Uncharted Territory

I'm ready for week two!! Yay! 

Prayer Request: Mini-School Open House Tuesday Night!! I've been talking with the teachers and I have a feeling this year is going to be different than last year, when I had a total of 6 parents show up. I will be nervous and I'm hoping I don't get asked "Is this your first year?" I feel like that question is associated with a "you're not going to be a good teacher" mindset, and that is not what I want my parents to feel like.

Up this week in my accelerated class is Order of Operations, Writing Expressions, and Combining Like Terms! All very fun, but there is one that I am especially excited to teach:
For those of you who do not know yet, I am in the process of writing of a book! It's an educational book that deals with the concept of Order of Operations. During my student teaching, my cooperating teacher told me a story that she tells rather than teaching the old PEMDAS way. Last year, I really expanded on the story and stuck with referencing it all year. I loved how well it really taught the students Order of Operations, rather than just memorizing letters of PEMDAS that really isn't correct to begin with. Being a math teacher I would say math is my strongest subject, while writing isn't exactly. I would much rather just write than really worry about grammar, punctuation, or spelling (you've probably noticed if you've read my blogs!). So this is really new ground for me and just learning the whole process of writing a book, finding an illustrator, getting it illustrated, getting it edited, getting it published, and so on. So while my book, for now, is no where near being on any shelves, I am going to get to read my first draft to my students this week and see how they react to it. I do know they have all been taught PEMDAS, but hopefully they're open to looking at this objective a different way. I will have to let y'all know how it's going!

In my on-level classes we're going to spend the week on decimals! Everything from ordering and comparing to estimating and finishing with adding and subtracting. I think I left my favorite activity with decimals in Waco, so I spent last week recreating with a new shopping ad. So Thursday my students will be going grocery shopping! It's a wonderful way to get them to practice adding and subtracting decimals with an extremely useful real world application. 

Also, I begin coaching my wonderful little 6th graders this week with PSA! I am so excited to begin working with the girls and I cannot wait to see the progress they make throughout our season!

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." - Hebrews 11:1

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 1 Complete, 186 to Go!!

I guess a whole summer will let you forget how quickly just one school day goes by! My day was a blur but when I think back, I definitely did teach 6 classes today and they all went smoothly! Thank you so much to anyone who was lifting me up in prayers! It is greatly appreciated!

"So I unlocked my classroom door and..." (family joke!) I feel like I could give that much detail though! I definitely enjoyed my accelerated classes! There are some very smart kids and after finally concluding today that I DO know more than them, I'm ready to challenge them mathematically! It was obvious even in the very beginner activity that I did which of my classes I was teaching. That is fine by me because I'm quite used to teaching at the regular or even remedial level, but I think my accelerated classes are going to be a blast! My very last class will be interesting; there are 29 students and it's the end of the day! I will be strategically placing them in my seating charts and try to gently remind some of my boys they do not have to make a comment after every single thing I say. I did pull out my line of "don't make me use my teacher voice!" And just in case some of you don't know, I'm required to keep a website for my school and update it every so often. So if you haven't been to it you should check it out! Directory Page , then click on my name and you'll go to my page! I'm not sure how much updating I'll do, but I like it for now!

The best part of my day includes passing periods. You may be surprised at this, but I have incredible teachers that surround me (1 is my mentor and the other one is graduated from Baylor so you know she's fantastic). At my school they play music during the last minute of the passing period to help students move along and get to class. We decided to add our form of encouragement and have sword fights in the hallway (with foam swords) while yelling get to class!! It's quite entertaining and I love the stares we get from students!
I did get several "I heard you're really nice." I really don't want to be known as the nice teacher and I definitely don't want kids to mistake nice for easy. I am nice and kind, but I'm also hard and I expect a lot. Hopefully this will be evident through the rest of this first week, because I do not want a stereotype on me!

My day ended with a wonderful surprise from one of my best Baylor friends:
 Clancypants you are so kind and thoughtful!! I love them and they smell incredible!!

Overall I love being a Bronco and bring on the rest of the year!! :) I told my Baylor friends today, I love finally earning my money and getting paid for what I'm doing!! ha

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Brand New Life

Ta-duhhh!! My very own classroom? Yes!! I've only been waiting for this for 4 years now! I am most grateful for how prepared I feel. I keep hearing the question, "Aren't you nervous for the first day?" and I"m really tired of it, because no, I'm not nervous. I'm excited!! I'm confident in my ability and my principal has done nothing but reassure how much confidence he has in me when I hear him talking to other people about me. That's a pretty awesome feeling. I think my dad summed it up best when he said it's like I'm wearing an old hat; it feels comfortable, and I know it's exactly where I'm supposed to be!
My goal for this year is to update this once a week!! I'm sure I can do it! I will do a much better job!
This time next week I will have completed two days of school! WOO!

"Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

2 month Countdown!!

I cannot believe I am at the point in my life where I'm counting down to college graduation!! I just started, and I definitely am not mature enough to be responsible for myself! :)
With Spring Break over, I feel like we are officially on the downhill slide. There's not much left but interviews, job fairs, and waiting VERY patiently to find out where I will be next year! I can't wait to see where God is going to place me and what children I get to spend my days with!
I feel quite blessed already, so I am just anticipating a lot of awesome things to come in the near future.
With all of that said, I have lots of projects, research papers, lesson plans, etc. to finish for the year but I'll try to keep everyone updated!
I already have one phone interview lined up with Delay Middle School and have been invited to the invite-only job fairs of grapevine/colleyville, lewisville, and plano isd.

62 days and counting...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Who wouldn't want to hire me?!

After completing 7 school district applications, this whole "I'm gonna have a real job in less than 6 months" is really starting to get to me. I am getting anxious, excited, and incredibly stressed all at one time!

This was my journal from the first week back: It was an easy segway back into full teaching for the spring semester. I am a little worried about how to fit 5 weeks into the semester, so I am determined to just get them all done right away. We’ve already had 3 days of testing, a tornado drill, and have a fire drill planned for this next week. I also wanted to jump right back in because I love the unit that we are currently on. I love teaching about graphs and central tendencies. I taught this when I was a TA, so I liked the feeling that this wasn’t the first time that I have taught this subject before. I was able to bring ideas to our planning time that the other teachers hadn’t heard of before. (i.e. Range Dog!) On the day that I taught mean, median, mode, and range I had Range Dog playing as the students entered the room. It was awesome to see their reactions to the corny song! I think the best part was when I’d play it for them later and after it was over I’d say, “What was that? You want to hear it again?” They would all groan and say, “Noooo!” I loved that part of the day, and the students definitely are still humming it in the hallways. At the beginning of the week, many students got excited when they found out it was my week to teach. That always makes me feel good, when they want me to teach. I’m excited for this last semester of teaching, for the ctctm conference, for the opportunity to teach teachers the kaleidoscope lesson, and for my last semester with my middle school math family! 

This past week was a tad more interesting. I had my first gun scare. The gun has still yet to be found (a firearm sniffing dog searched our campus), but it put a lot of things back into perspective. I still teach in WacoISD and even though I'm teaching 6th grade this year.. they still have serious issues I have to be aware of.
Here was my journal from this week:
This was by far the scariest week I’ve had in middle school. This week proved to me I still have a lot to learn about schools and their policies. Once the mention of a “gun on campus” I would have thought the administrators would have at least told the teachers. By not telling us anything it seemed more like they were trying to hide things from us, and that is not how you build trust. During our faculty meeting one teacher said, “Reality is better than rumor,” and I agree with that one hundred percent. I would much rather receive an email saying this is what is going on than know nothing at all! I understand the aspect of not wanting to create a panic; but when it’s something that important, it’s a different story. To have root beer floats in the teacher lounge the next day just confirmed my feeling of an “oops, sorry for the mistake” attitude from the administrators. I want to be able to trust my administrators, but when it comes to illegal weapons I would rather error on the side of caution. From the whole experience, I just have a lot of questions. When is it appropriate to go into a lockdown? Or since they didn’t know where the gun was, should they go into a lockdown potentially locking a student in a class who has the gun? When should the teachers be notified about certain things on campus that effect a lot of people? It also came out in our faculty meeting that on Friday a kid brought a plastic, bb gun pistol with him and I had no idea that ever went on. If they have any suspicion of a kid, can they search him and his backpack? A lot of these may just be opinion/instinct calls, but it’s definitely one part of the school system that I am not aware of. I never would have thought, especially in 6th grade, I would be worrying about this, but it is a part of today’s society. I feel partly upset with myself for not knowing these procedures and not being aware of what should be going on (except for the fact that I’ve participated in 2 lockdown drills). But I learned on Wednesday it’s a lot different in reality, than in a drill.
While the events were scary, I think the worst part of it is the students weren’t scared at all. They are too young to know about Columbine or Fort Gibson, and they don’t understand the effects of bullying. They still think guns are cool and don’t understand how deadly they can be. I also think they can’t logically process the consequences of their actions and what shooting a person could potentially do. In a way, this is the most frightening part to me.

Moral of the story is - Who wouldn't want to hire me?!?!
I've had the pregnant girl, I've had the gang members, I've had the 17 year old 8th grader who's been convicted of attempted murder, I've broken up a fight in my classroom, and I've now had a gun on my campus. I have so much experience that I'm sure teachers who have been teaching for 10 years haven't experienced!! But I'm ready to show some principals what I've got and that I can deal with these type of kids, but I can also handle the middle-class white kids!! :)

Psalm 18:2 "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."