Thursday, May 16, 2013

Life's curveballs and blessings

Well, long time no see! I have down right been a stranger to my own blog. It makes me sad, but I want you to know that I am not gone permanently! My sweet husband was in a horrible accident in December, the 6th to be exact. A man crossed over into on-coming traffic and hit my husband head on going 45mph. It was horrible. A bystander called me and told me to come quick. I had just gotten home and hopped in the tub for a well-deserved soak. I quickly sped across town to the scene of the accident, and let me tell you, I was hysterical. When I got there I went straight to the ambulance but Chris wasn't in there, he was on the ground and EMS was still working on him. I was losing my mind trying to get to him. The police and some firemen were holding me back, promising me that he was going to be ok. They didn't want me in the way. All I could see was a paramedic leaning over my husband on the ground and an SUV sitting ON TOP of my husband's totaled Honda Civic. Look, I didn't handle that too gracefully. I just wanted to see my husband and know that he was ok! I put up a bit of a fight and they were laughing at me. I gave them a run for their money that they weren't expecting!

When I finally got to see Chris, he was so banged up, it just broke my heart. He had head to toe abrasions, and a severely damaged right leg.....I could see bone. Listen, I can talk all day long about autopsies, blood and gore, but little prepares you for that.

The man that hit Chris accepted full responsibility. He came to the hospital the next day to meet us and apologize. He spoke with us right before my husband's emergency surgery.

Miraculously Chris only had ONE broken bone. His heel. It doesn't sound all that dramatic, but boy was it! He could not put his right foot down for almost 3 months. NO weight on it whatsoever. Not only that but the bone that I could see earlier was his right knee-cap. He ended up with close to 80 stitches in his right knee. There was so much tissue damage, swelling and bruising that he could not bend or straighten his right knee. It stayed in a brace, slightly bent, for those three months. He did a lot of sitting, understandably, and I didn't. Girlfriend spent some time proving the "in sickness..." part of those vows from so many years ago!

I did not go back to work until January 7th. Over a month (including Winter break of course!). When I went back to work, I only went back part time temporarily. I was back full time in February. Chris finally returned to work on April 15th. Thank God. His job, and mine, were AMAZING. Our jobs were safely waiting on us to return when we were able. Few people can say that. We are blessed beyond measure.

Chris is on his feet and walking with a cane. He has gone from being immobile, to a wheelchair, to a walker, to a cane, and now he is walking some of the day without the cane. Which is an amazing improvement. His leg is still incredibly swollen, as well as his right ankle and foot. Watching him struggle to walk is sometimes heartbreaking. I say sometimes because it is mostly a reminder about how amazing God is. Chris should not have survived the accident, yet he is breathing and walking around. He should, no will, make a FULL recovery. He has two 2 1/2 inch titanium screws holding his right heel together. The x-rays are amazing. You can barely tell there was a break...except for those honkin' screws! God is so good.

I can't wait to post tons of pictures from this year and share some of my experiences as a first grade teacher. I've learned, and taught, a lot this year and I look forward to sharing it all with you!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

So much to be thankful for!

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone! Sooooo much has happened in my life lately and I know that I have been a neglectful blogger and I apologize! I have so much to be thankful for. Our family is incredibly blessed. We must always remember to be thankful for what we have even during time of heartache. Recently we found out that my grandfather was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma. He was given 6-9 months to live. That was a devastating blow to my family. My grandfather is our pastor, he has baptized and dedicated every child born in this family. He married most of us, myself and my husband included. I've always imagined him baptizing and dedicating our children, but it doesn't look like that will happen for us since we aren't pregnant and are somewhat struggling to get pregnant. No worries about us and babies will all happen in God's time!

Gosh, this sounds really depressing doesn't it? Well, I have so much to be thankful for. My grandfather is 89 years old and he has lived an amazing life. His spirits are high and we all feel blessed to have an opportunity for him to get his affairs in order, rather than having him snatched from us unexpectedly. So I am thankful for the blessing of knowing...and for the opportunity to cherish the little time we have left rather than taking it for granted. See with Paw Paw it has been easy to take for granted because his hobby his entire life has been God and work. He is either preaching or working...sometimes at the same time!

I am thankful for my family. My husband and my parents are phenomenal. I could not ask for better. I have an amazing home that we bought this year and I am thankful that God has provided for us to be able to purchase the home of our dreams. I am blessed with a job that I love, a team that I love, and students that I love. I have fabulous friends that I can call at the drop of a hat for any reason...even at 3am. I am thankful for them! I have two pups Prince & Delilah, who love me no matter what! I am thankful for my few but faithful followers to my neglected baby blog! You are greatly appreciated!

Best parents ever!

I love him so much!

Our furbabies! Prince & Delilah!
That is all for now. :I will post pics of my classroom soon along with pictures of some of the great things we are doing in class!
Be thankful in all things!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I think I picked the right name for my blog!

So I'm sitting here thinking about all that has gone on the past 9 weeks of school....I survived a class party, a class field trip and a class full of 6 year olds in general....all in all it has been awesome!

Although I have a few of these....

I can relate. I talk too much too....hence the name and the ridiculously long posts. What can I say? I'm a talkative teacherista! of my struggles this year has been working with an incredibly gifted student who is just plain lazy and his father wants to blame me because he is not getting an S+ on everything. I don't give students grades...they earn them. Anyway, I finally figured out what works for this kid. I paired him with a struggling student who is also lazy. My lazy "prodigy" recognizes that my struggler is lazy and he constantly works to keep him motivated. They have been working well together and I think I have a match made in heaven! They are both finally doing their work. Thank you Jesus. Well yesterday during math, I called my lil struggler to the board to complete a problem. My lil "prodigy" (note: I keep putting prodigy in quotes because although he is definitely intelligent he does not belong in college which is where I'm pretty sure his dad thinks he is going to be next year.) pipes up and says "I'll give you a hint. The answer is six." I died. Seriously....I think we need to have a talk about what constitutes a hint.

These kids never cease to make me smile.

So as I was looking through my blog posts I realized that I definitely picked the right name! Crazy. I'll try to keep these posts a little more bearable and less like novels!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Johnny Appleseed detail!

Sorry for such the delay in posting lately! I have fought off TWO stomach bugs in the past three weeks and I've been playing catch-up ever since!! I know that I posted a little bit about Johnny Appleseed Day before in my "Applelooza" post...but here it is in all it's glory! The true story....

Johnny Appleseed Day was September 26th...also his birthday. It sounded like soooooo much fun! Then reality set in! Let me start off by saying that I love my job, I love my team, I love my kids....BUT I've learned a few things the hard way this year! I must admit making the change from fifth grade to first was much much harder than I had expected. I've had a few frazzled days that ended in my coming straight home, hopping in the jetted tub and then straight to bed after that...asleep by 7 with no dinner. I was just too exhausted to eat.

One thing I do when I am in a new environment is follow those with the experience. So when discussing our Johnny Appleseed day we talked about what we would all wear...plaid shirt & jeans, along with the cute crafts we would be making and how we would go about doing that. My sweet team members with oodles of experience told me all about how they turned the dozen or so (6) crafts we were going to make into stations and the kids would rotate in groups throughout. My sweet friend, Miss Liv to Teach, was showing me the craft she does for early finishers. That way when members of one group were ready to move on, they would have a task to keep them busy.

That night I went home and cut construction paper with my husband until 11pm. My left hand was killing me. But sweeties were not missing out on any of these Johnny Appleseed crafts! The next day, I donned my plaid shirt and jeans...I do love a jeans day...and off to school I went with my hundred bags of thousands of construction paper giblets. Yes, sometimes I exaggerate.

I arrive at school to set up my stations and get things ready for our day. Now, the first half of our day is normal. But at a school with uniforms, when your kids walk in wearing something other than their polos and khakis its as if they walked in wearing straight-jackets. Straight up crazy. Surviving the first half of the day seemed doable, but as it turns out surviving that party should have earned me a gold medal.

Oh did I mention that I made home-made applesauce that morning that was simmering in the crockpot all day long....a little slice of heaven!

Back to crazytown...well I had two lovely mamas come volunteer in my room for the party. Thank God for them! I set up four stations: Life cycle of an apple foldable book, apple wreath painting,  create your own Johnny Appleseed, and an apple diagraming station. I also had a mosaic apple early finishers task which I completely forgot to show them. ALSO, as I was circulating during the madness I was creating Johnny Appleseed pot hats for each kiddo. Yeah...I had lost my mind.

The first thing I did when the party started was put the stations out at each group's tables. I showed the kids what they would be making. As I am explaining to the kids that I am going to come around to each group to show them what to do, I am interrupted by one of my sweeties shouting over me "Can we start? Can we start? Mrs. Malcolm can we start?" I explain to him that he will have to wait until an adult gives him directions for his group. Seeing as I had 3 adults in the room and four stations, we were on a bit of a delay. And of course his group didn't have someone standing over them just yet. I quickly get my group started and head over to his group. Where I find him cutting one of the books to shreds. I ask him what he is doing and he tells me that he decided to start. Super. I explain to him how this works and make him put the scissors down. This sweet child is going to cause me to have grey hair by the end of the day. OK so I teach them what to do. I give them all of the parts that they need to label and glue for their life cycle books and I explain that they ONLY need to cut out the bushy tree top from the green square...that everything else is cut for them. Overall the group is a group of independent kids so I leave them to it and head back over to help some other sweeties.

As I'm bouncing around to the constant "Mrs. Malcolm! Mrs. Malcolm, come help me!" or "Mrs. Malcolm! LOOOOK at what I made!" I find that my sweet darlin who had decided to start without instructions has managed to chop of half of his book. Lord help me. We manage to do some triage with our handy-dandy Scotch tape and move on.

One of my sweet volunteers informed me that she had to leave for an appointment and she split. Ok to be fair, she told me ahead of time that she couldn't stay the entire time, but boy did it feel like I had just received an unexpected bikini wax when she said she was leaving. The other mom was looking at me with a look of fear. I have to hand it to my mama who stuck around. She took the painting station and she was a TROOPER! The other mom was a trooper too, but she left early so she doesn't get the all caps award.

We ripped that bandaid off and kept going. At one point my TROOPER just looked at me and started cracking up. It startled me and I looked at her. She proceeded to inform me that the look on my face was priceless. I imagine that it was something along the lines of silent horror. My room looked like a construction paper bomb went off in it. That is when I tell her that I've learned a big lesson in crafting with 6 year olds. I have learned that rotation stations will only work if I have a volunteer at each station. Next time I will do one craft at a time with the entire group.

Suddenly we see that it was about ten minutes until the end of the day, it is obvious that my groups are not going to make it to all of the stations. Each group got to three of the four stations. In that moment we realize (ok ok, it was my volunteer who realized it...not me!) she realizes that we haven't handed out our apple treats! We quickly pass out apple chips, apple jacks, apple cream cheese wraps, apples and cheese and crackers covered in caramel.......apples, apples, apples...and they wash it all down with apple cider.

My kiddos scarfed the food down and quickly packed up. We shuffled them out the door and I went to afternoon duty....still wearing my "Ingrid Appleseed" pot on my head. My team assembled in the cafe and asked me how it went. My response: "I hate Johnny Appleseed." Their response: laughter. Yeah they had a good chuckle at my expense.

As duty finished up my TROOPER walked into the cafe and proceeded to inform me that she cleaned my room. How awesome is she? When I walked in my room looked spotless! I love her! I remember thinking....I can still smell the apples...and...oh wait! AHHHH! I forgot the applesauce! Boo! No worries...I took that delicious crockpot home and my hubby and I enjoyed it with some vanilla icecream and a crushed waffle cone for added crunch! Heavenly!

Don't fret, I don't really hate Johnny Appleseed. He's cool. I hated the fact that I had no idea what to expect and I felt like it showed. It may have showed to me, and even to my two sweet volunteers, but it didn't show to the kids. At the end of the day when your sweeties are walking out the door shouting "Mrs. Malcolm! I don't want this day to end! It is the BEST day EVER!" you know you did something right!

Friday, September 28, 2012


Wow. Just wow. What a week. It started off with some amazing training on Differentiated Instruction, some science experiments, and then Johnny Appleseed madness with the kiddos. Where oh where to begin? How about Monday...I went to a two day training with a Kindergarten teacher friend of mine and we learned all about the amazing world of Differentiated Instruction. Since I am an alternate certification teacher, I did not have endless courses on how to differentiate. Therefore, I was very excited about this amazing training. It is so nice to go to a training where you actually take away a lot of knowledge instead of doodling on a notepad and daydreaming about what you could be doing with your students instead of sweating out sub plans and sitting through a painfully boring lecture....what a waste of makeup! That about sums up Monday and Tuesday. Winning!

Wednesday...oh Wednesday...I was welcomed back with 18 hugs and lots of love. I just love my kiddos! Well we did some fun Apple-themed experiments on Wednesday & Thursday. (I will load some pictures later since I'm still figuring out this blogging thing.) We watched an apple brown and then we figured out what keeps them from browning (lemon juice!). We also did a Sink or Float experiment...guess what? It floated! They really really wanted me to throw the water on them. They were very disappointed when I wouldn't douse them like they just coached the winning team of the Super Bowl. They shall survive.

Today was Johnny Appleseed Day. I remember when I was teaching fifth grade and I thought, oh that looks like so much fun! Well, I was half right! Lets just say that I was only slightly prepared for what would happen when you put 18 six year olds in a room and tell them that we are going to have a party and craft all afternoon. Ok, lets be real, I had no clue what I was in for. BUT, I did stay up late cutting out all of the crafty things their hearts desired. We had Johnny Appleseed pots on our heads thanks to some blueish gray construction paper, and half of a sentence strip. Then we made a Johnny Appleseed of our very own. Followed by an apple wreath...I will post pictures of what they were supposed to look like, followed by what they actually looked like. I had a total Pinterest fail moment with those bad boys...but hey, what the kids don't know won't hurt them...well in this case anyway! THEN we made a foldable book about the life cycle of an apple. THEN we made a diagram of an apple and labeled the parts. Yes, yes, I can hear your gasps now. Well we did all of this in less than two hours. Thankfully I had two parent volunteers show up, bless their sweet souls. One had to leave early, but the other stayed until they were scurried out the door.  At one point, as I stood looking out at the craft bomb that had just exploded in my room and thinking that I would probably do things differently next time, I hear hysterical laughter. This startled me and I looked at my amazing volunteer and she is just staring at me and laughing. She quickly apologized and told me that the look on my face was priceless. I am so grateful that she has a sense of humor, since I'm pretty sure that I looked horrified. So we crafted, we fed them apples galore, then we packed 'em up and paraded them out of the door. I had to go to duty and thanked her profusely on my way out. Well, she showed up at the end of duty and said, "Hey, by the way I just cleaned up everything from the crafts, I put some things away and I'm not sure if I put them in the right place, but all that is left is the floor needs to be vacuumed." I hugged her. I love that woman! When I walked in, you could not tell that I had just had a crafting explosion in my room. At that point I could have cared less that one day I might open a cabinet and be showered in construction paper...for the moment, my room was CLEAN again! Woo hoo! We will worry about the cabinet that could be stuffed with God-knows-what later. All in all, my kids spent the day singing (to the tune of Frère Jacques) "Mrs. Malcolm, Mrs. Malcolm, we love you, we love you, today is amazing, today is amazing"....I wish I could remember the rest, but I don't. They walked out telling me that they wished the day would never end. That made my exhausted heart smile....and made every gray hair worth it.

Oh and don't think for one minute that I actually knew how to spell Frère Jacques! Thankfully Google knew exactly what I meant when I typed "Frara Jaka" and helped this poor lil southern belle out. Mmmmhmm...keepin it real here folks. Keepin it real.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

You're Hired!

Success! I did so well as a permanent substitute that I was hired as a full time 5th grade Reading/Language Arts teacher. I was so elated that when the principal offered me the job I jumped up and down like a child and hugged her.

Last year was my first full year of teaching. I had many ups and downs...more ups than downs thankfully. I struggled with finding my confidence as an educator. I was surrounded by such great teachers that I really felt inferior...when I was far from it! I taught 50% of those 5th graders and they scored 2nd in the county on FCAT!  I am extremely proud of that! I made some amazing friends and had some phenomenal mentors. I learned a lot from my first year. I learned that my administration is very supportive and encouraging. I was so scared of them when I started. The way I saw it was that they really held the power...they could tell me that I was a horrible teacher and that scared the living daylights out of me. I was so afraid that I was going to royally screw up some poor child and I would have some Donald Trump style firing! Now, let me tell you, those women are incredibly talented, loving, and encouraging, but they mean business! They have high expectations and I did NOT want to fall short. That's great...I probably made them sound like Jekell & Hyde. They are far from it. I lacked so much self-confidence that I just lived to please. I wanted to be told that I was a good teacher and that I was doing my job correctly. Since I was 30 and I had taken quite a while to become a teacher I felt that I had wasted so much time. In reality, the path that I took to becoming a teacher made me a well rounded individual. I am an intelligent woman with a good heart...those are great ingredients for one amazing teacher! Watching my sweeties soar from scoring 14th to 2nd was the boost that I needed.

The thing that I loved most was how much my students loved me. I taught most of them for two years and they were all asking me to move up to sixth grade with them. That would have been fun! In the end I felt that I wanted to spread my wings and try out working with a younger group of students. Fifth graders are fun, but seriously hormonal! I preferred their more angelic personalities from 4th grade! They were definitely more focused on pleasing the teacher than who's dating who. In 4th grade they still have cooties. Not so much in fifth.

Well that's the short version of my lengthy road to becoming a teacher. From here on out you will hear about my life as a first grade teacher! That's right....from 5th to 1st. I've lost my mind...and I'm loving every minute of it!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Life as a Substitute!

Welcome back!

While I was taking education classes I met this amazing woman named Molly (you can meet her too! check out her website: Molly and I became fast friends. We worked together on many projects and often talked about the amazing charter school where she worked. She quickly had me convinced to sign up to be a sub at her school. During the summer I helped her set up her classroom and she introduced me to her principal. I was very nervous about being a substitute...honestly I was afraid that it would scare me off from teaching running away as if your hair was on fire...and I have a lot of hair. Scary thought! I agreed to sub for her 5th grade class, provided that I could go volunteer in her classroom first so that I could see the way a typical school day went. Also, I wanted to see how her kiddos behaved. I volunteered, I copied stuff, I graded stuff, the kids were nice....all in all it was a good day.

The next day was the anticipated first day of subbing! I barely slept the night before. Honestly, it went great. I am a pretty enthusiastic person and I love to entertain a crowd so the kids stayed engaged. Plus I was sportin my no-nonsense attitude of "listen here, I am a professional substitute and I KNOW how things go around here. No funny business. So now let's learn stuff and have some fun."

I conquered! I loved every minute of it! I quickly became a regular sub at her school. I subbed in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades pretty regularly. Within two weeks the principal had sought me out for a possible permanent sub position for a pregnant teacher. I was beside myself. In the meantime I was subbing almost every day at the school. I learned a lot about the school's expectations of both students and teachers. It was a great way to mold myself to their "way" and make myself more desirable of a job candidate. I did sub in second grade one day. Within the first five minutes of class a child threw up her breakfast ALL over her desk and surrounding areas. Super....more fluids. Back to third grade I went! I never turned down a sub job, unless of course I was already scheduled for one.

Here are a few sub tips:
* Always remain professional, polite, and stay out of any drama/gossip.
* Always say yes to the job...even if you are afraid of the age group.
* Don't show fear! The kids can smell it and they will eat you alive if they do!
* Adhere to the schools rules. Always.
* Take candy.
* Take some sort ball. Koosh balls are great for silent ball. Have the kids stand in a circle around the room and toss it to each other. This is great for those 10 minute lulls when a lesson ends early.
* Leave the room cleaner than you found it.
* Leave DETAILED notes. I took notes all day long on the schedule/plans that were left for me. This allowed for the teacher to handle any issues that arose.
* Don't relax during the planning period. Make copies for other teachers on the grade level, grade something for the teacher you are subbing for (if they wouldn't mind). I always told the teachers that if they would leave me a key and a grading scale, then I would grade whatever work the kids did. They LOVED that. There was always a key left for me.

Trust me those few extra things paid off in the end. I was highly recommended around the school and there were TWO permanent sub positions that came available and BOTH teams requested that the school hire me for their spot.

Ultimately, my hard work paid off and I got the permanent sub position. I taught 4th grade Reading & Language Arts from December to the end of the year. I was so excited! I entered that position with as much gusto and flair as one could possibly muster.

I was very nervous about the parents' reception of me. I was fearful of how they would react to a first year teacher teaching their precious darlings. To my amazement, they welcomed me with open arms. They were very generous and understanding. Now don't get me wrong, not every moment was sunshine and lollipops! I rode one heck of a roller coaster for the rest of the year.

I learned so much about team dynamics, the rose-colored glasses that you wear your first few years, being an overachiever is hard in a profession where perfection is impossible (I'm still working on that one), and school has changed since I was in elementary! All that said, there were great learning opportunities in every rough patch.

At the end of the day what kept me going wasn't the validation that I was getting from my team, or administration, it was that light in the kids' eyes when they got it. When they finally figured out the concept that I was teaching. That was the moment that I looked forward to every day.

Next up: You're hired!