Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day - The Old Fashioned Way!

Happy Valentine's Day, Everyone!


I know, it's incredibly weird that I would disappear for 6 months, and then suddenly show back up in a poodle skirt. No- I didn't get lost in a time warp, and I didn't get my holidays mixed up. I promise, I will explain everything!

6 Months ago I started blogging again, for the purpose of connecting with other teachers out there, and keeping in touch with my family back home on the other side of the mountains. I had every intention of keeping up with it, and had no doubt that I could. Then I got my class list. I got to see all the names of my incoming students. All 32 of them. 32! At first, I didn't think a whole lot of it. I knew it was a high number - more than I had ever had before - but it didn't occur to me how many 32 really was. Now I am in the seventh month of this school year, and I can easily explain to you how many 32 is.

It means 32 papers to grade, every time they turn something in. Not so bad, until you consider that there are 5 subjects a day. So, if I collect one assignment in each subject, I have 160 papers to grade. And fifth graders like feedback on those papers! Needless to say, I am getting really good at finding other ways to assess student achievement. It means 32 report cards every quarter. One report card is a handful the way our district does them (filled in by hand). It means 32 parent teacher conferences. Actually, more if you count all the step-families and divorced parents who can't stand to be in the same room as the person they were once married to and demand separate conferences. Anyway, you get the picture. I have been buried in just trying to keep up. I have taken many pictures with the intention of turning them into a post. I have had many posts running through my head. I have even started posts and saved them. I have just struggled to bring them to completion.

So what changed? First, my mindset changed. I have spent the past few months trying different strategies to keep up better with not only school, but my family and home life as well. I am learning to let more things go, and prioritize better. My husband has been 100% understanding throughout this year, but I know he wishes he could see me more- without a plan book or a stack of fifth grade writing samples in between us. Then, the economy continued to go downhill. After reading several emails from the district offices about the state of our finances, it became blaringly clear that next year they are likely to make some major cut-backs. I would say it is safe to assume they won't be hiring many more teachers next year. Which also means the days of small class sizes are a thing of the past- at least for a while. So, what it boils down to is that I had better get used to having an overflowing classroom without it taking over my life outside of school. I am committed to working on this.

So, why the 1950s get-up? Well, I spent all of last weekend working on this skirt. (Yes, the gradebook and planbook got neglected for a few days). It was my first solo sewing project. What I mean by solo is without my mom, the infamous A Chelsea Morning, right there to help me. I think I must have called my mom 8 or 9 times throughout the course of the weekend. And when she told me that her and dad were going to be out all afternoon, and would be off the radar for a few hours, I almost had a total meltdown! Needless to say, I managed to finish the skirt (obviously), and I thought that my mom would probably really like to see what she helped me create. I started to email her the pictures, but then I thought it might be a good opportunity to do a post. Finally. So I did.

Again, why the 1950s skirt, you ask? Well, in the fifth grade, we don't do anything small. Especially not parties. We do a huge "Frightening Fiesta" with a full Mexican buffet for Halloween. We do a "European Christmas Adventure" with a full European food buffet for Christmas. And for Valentine's Day? A 1950s sock-hop, of course! We set up one classroom as a drive-in movie theatre. We turn the deks into cars, complete with headlights.


And we play The Honeymooners on the big screen.


And we have a 1950s diner in the cafeteria that served hot dogs, chips, and malts. And we finish it off with a sock-hop. We encourage the kids to dress up for the day, and of course the teachers dress up as well. So, this is why I needed a poodle skirt. It's not like you can just go to Kohl's and buy a poodle skirt, and the costume prices were ridiculous. So, I found myself spending the weekend in front of my sewing machine, with the phone permenantly attached to my ear. Likewise, my mom spent a great deal of her weekend on the phone, too. But, I wasn't the only own who went to great lengths to look to part. Check out my little cuties:




There were a lot more girls than this dressed up, but these were the ones I managed to get to stop running around the cafeteria like crazy. I got them to slow down long enought for a picture.







These two gals looked adorable. Apparently their dance class did a 50s number last year, so they had the costumes. They looked so cute dressed up like twins. (Even cuter with their heads attached. I cropped these because I feel it's better not to post identifiable pictures of other people's kids.)









I even had my own little twin! This little girl actually rented her costume, so it was very authentic. Aren't her little saddle shoes adorable?





Cute isn't a word that I use to describe my fifth graders. I am constantly reminding them that they are becoming young adults, and that they must be mature and set an example for the younger kids. "I'm sure you were adorable when you were little, but those behaviors are no longer cute," I tell them. (To which I am usually met with eye-rolling, a much more mature behavior). However, this was one day that I can honestly say these kiddos were cute. Very mature, adult-like, perfect example setters. But cute nontheless!

So, there you have it. This is my third attempt at doing the blogging thing. This time I am going to try to commit to a post a week, just to keep family and friends updated. Attempt and try are very much the operative part of these statements, however, as I am not making any promises.

Stay tuned for updates on the split list- my hubby and I have managed to have some fun these past few months. If you have no idea what I am talking about, check out my split list post here.




See you in about a week!
(Unless I get a new student.)




7 comments:

Gretchen said...

Seems like you're prioritizing okay to me, Mandy. This is your season of life in an overwhelming (and that can be good as well as bad) classroom. I don't think I'd have been blogging when I was your age--a thousand and 15 or 16 years ago. It's a lot. And you're tending your marriage. While I lurve seeing what you're up to, I can wait. But what a treat to see you in my google reader today.

Great job on your first solo experience! I did the exact same thing--only for my daughter's sock hop. She was in kindergarten. And the skirt, made of felt and my poor workmanship kept stretching and stretching. I think it would probably fit me. :)

romans1513 said...

wow that is a lot!!!
I went to school where a class of 30 was the norm I have never thought about it from a teachers point of view before - thanks for opening my eyes
makes me in even more awe of the great teachers out there the ones that manage their classrooms well

I LOVE your skirt
your very clever
I dont know that I would even attempt to try

and the activities sound like they were fun

I do hope you can blog at least once a week

Jen

Barb said...

You did a great job on the skirt, sweetie. It's adorable and I love that all the little girls are wearing poodle skirts. What fun photos!

I cringed when you talked about grading papers for 32 kids times 5 subjects, every single night. No wonder you always bring a ton of grading with you when you visit.

I'm your mom so I have an insider's view of what it means to be a teacher today. You have no idea how proud I am of you and I can see progress all the time, in getting your balance together so that you can have a life outside teaching.

Love you,
Mom

Diane@Diane's Place said...

Great job on the poodle skirt, Mandy! It's not the easiest thing to start your solo sewing career on, but you did it and did it well. :o)

Here in Arkansas where I grew up and went to school, classes averaged then and now about 30 to a class. Sometimes 26 or 34, but about 30 on average. However, some teachers have teacher's aides to help them here. Not all teachers, but some anyway.

Happy Valentine's Day to you and Aaron! :o)

Love and hugs,

Diane

Lynne said...

Back in the dark ages when I was in school, we always had 30+ students in a classroom. I never imagined how much work that must have been for the teachers.

I'd love to be one of your students - you make school fun as well as educational. Your skirt turned out fine - I'm sure you and your mom are proud of your first project.

Judith said...

Hi Mandy,

Like stepping back in history, seeing your poodle sock hop skirt, and the students wearing all theirs. It's a poodle epidemic!!!

Looks like you did a great job with your first sewing. Can you imagine how much money you and Aaron would save from making even simple things, like p.j's, and summer tops, etc.

Bev said...

Absolutely adorable. Whatever you do, dont EVER get rid of it, it'll eventually be worn to how many Halloween / costume parties and all Aaron has to do is wear a T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up and his hair greased slick. Completely adorable. xoxox Aunt Bev

PS If it makes you feel any better, Leslie grades All The Time too!