Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My Journey...Part 2

After that year of teaching 1st grade, I spent the summer working on my master's degree. Throughout the summer I stressed about how and when and if I would get a teaching job before the school year began. The first day of school came and went, no offers. It wasn't until the second week of school when I received a phone call from a principal. She needed someone ASAP to teach a kindergarten class for someone on maternity leave. Apparently the pregnant teacher didn't plan to be out on leave for another month but had to go on emergency bed rest a WEEK before school started. In a scramble this school had hired a series of substitutes who couldn't or didn't want to hang in for the whole maternity leave. Imagine what it'd be like to be a parent of one of those kindergarteners! Three teachers within the first two weeks of school and none of them were their real teacher :-/. Needless to say the principal warned me that the parents might be a bit harsh and have a ton of questions when I showed up. I went in with a positive attitude and a huge warm inviting smile- I'd like to think that I melted their hearts a little and that made them forget how angry they were! I immediately began organizing the room, implementing classroom management techniques and started a class newsletter.  Those kids and parents never had a chance to dislike me. :) I learned how to teach Kindergarten and those students became my absolute FAVORITE! I loved the school, the community, the staff, the parents, the question was- what would I do when the teacher came back? Well I cried when I had to say goodbye to my kinders and then I subbed and subbed and subbed at that school day to day for the rest of the school year.

The following year I got really lucky, I got to return to that school! The principal liked me so much she asked me to "sub" in a class for a medical leave. This doesn't seem so lucky unless you knew the info on the DL=> the teacher on medical leave was planning on retiring and not returning this school year- shhhhh! So that's exactly what happened and my subbing turned into a leave replacement (temporary) contract for the whole school year! I was really getting into my teaching groove. I was honing my classroom management skills, enjoying creating resources for my 2nd grade content and loving visiting with all my past kinders. They would see me in the hall and scream out my name, "Hi, Mrs. Carozza!!!!" Then most times they'd run up and squeeze my legs with a group hug. I loved that school so much! I felt like a celebrity in those halls. The reality was, they couldn't hire me back because I didn't have seniority in the district from all of my subbing. My temporary contract was exactly that, temporary. I had to say goodbye to my dream school and once again I was a floater.

Now I'm to Sept. 2013 in my journey, the beginning of this school year. I was determined to be hired full time so that my previous year of leave replacement could count toward my seniority. According to HR, this had to happen consecutively or the year prior would count for nothing. After a few tearful visits to the district HR office, I was basically powerless in making my future as a contracted teacher happen. So I knew it was one of those situations where I would only be hired if I was in the right place at the right time and it was a fluke! I  emailed all the principals I knew and told them I'd be willing to come last minute and set up a classroom if needed and to put me on their preferred substitute list.  I was determined to be in the right place at the right time, dangit! Before I knew it, I was filling up my schedule with sub jobs like crazy! Some were good but most were NoT fun. One day I subbed in a classroom with a student who was emotionally disturbed, I kept my patience and got through the day. The staff were so impressed that I didn't leave that they bragged to the principal. That very same day I was offered a maternity leave position for a 1st grade teacher who was in a job share. This meant I would be paid a long term sub rate however I would have to fill my schedule with day to day sub jobs the other half of each week. I was in this position for about 3 months. Before that opportunity ended, the principal proposed a leave replacement position for a 4th grade class. I wasn't too enthused about teaching fourth grade since I am so passionate about primary but teaching is teaching, right? Well apparently the current teacher had an opportunity to take a new position in technology and science and wanted to leave mid year because her class was "the worst..." That didn't give me the warm and fuzzies but I thought, I'm young, energetic, I love teaching - I can do it! ....... I did do it. Til the very (bitter) end of the school year. There were many days I cried, many days I wanted to leave, but I just couldn't desert these kids and I just couldn't give up. I was determined to learn something from the experience and let it make me a better teacher.

I'll tell you something - I know I'm a better teacher because of all these experiences. Although they weren't ideal for my expectations and wants, maybe they were what I needed.

Monday, August 4, 2014

My Journey to a Contracted Teaching Position Part 1

I want to share my journey but I know it's going to be a long one so I will write a short version and a long version, your choice to skim and scan ;)

4 different schools 4 different school years
Long Term Sub- 2nd grade (2 months)
Long Term Sub- 1st grade (3 months)
Long Term Sub- Kindergarten (4 months )
Leave Replacement Temporary Contract - 2nd grade (all year)
Part Time Job Share Long Term Sub- 1st grade (3.5 months) & day to day sub part time K-6
Leave Replacement Contract - 4th grade (5 months)

When I completed my credential program I had already visited many schools in my school district for observations/field work as well as student teaching.  I was sure I was passionate about primary but just plain passionate about teaching and ready to jump in head first.  Unfortunately, many people told me that this was a horrible time to start a career in teaching and the overall consensus was that it would be a long difficult road.  Well they were right about the latter.  As much as I felt ready and willing and eager, there wasn't anything I could do about the "hiring freeze".  I just couldn't be considered for a position to have my own classroom unless I had some seniority, but I couldn't earn seniority through substituting.  So I was just a floater.  Waiting for circumstances to change, looking for the positive or lesson in every experience.

I was referred by my last student teaching assignment's principal to a new school.  I began as a long term substitute in a 2nd grade class.  There was a student in there who student on chairs to yell out "taco, taco!" just for attention, and the class was constantly riled up, not being quiet, very disrespectful.  I was convinced that 2nd grade was my favorite but that class challenged me in such a way that I was crying at the end of many days.  That assignment was only 2 months long!  Now I know, that that experience taught me to have a thicker skin and be more consistent and firm with my expectations.  I learned.

Later that principal referred me to another principal and I became a long term substitute at an IB school for a 1st grade teacher on maternity leave.  This class was so well behaved and so smart! They made teaching the easy part.  The difficult part came from the drama between my 1st grade team members.  It would have been easy to avoid if this school didn't put aside 1 hour of collaboration each Monday and continual collaboration in planning lessons/curriculum.  Plus, I was trying to fit in and learn the tricks to finding resources.  The experience was awkward to say the least.  Now I know, this experience was for me to hone my classroom management skills, learn about finding resources for my lessons, and challenge my higher ability students through differentiation in Math.  I learned.

To be continued...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Reviving My Blog

These past couple of years in pursuit of a full-time teaching contract have been quite the experience. They have been a test of patience and dedication to my craft.  I am looking forward to my journey from this point on, I want to revive this blog and continue to be inspired by others' blogs.  More details on the ups and downs of my journey to come in my next post.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Math with Peeps

After seeing how cheap Peeps were at Walmart, I could't pass up the opportunity to reward my kiddos for a week of good behavior.  I just had to think up a way to make eating Peeps delicious and educational at the same time.

I just wanted to share what I created because I am proud of it :)

I decided we would take predict the class' favorite Peep color and then tally up the totals.  After that I handed out two peeps per student (no eating yet!).  They counted up their table groups totals, wrote them on the worksheet.  Then I assigned each table group a reporter, tallied the totals up front, we summed up the totals together and then graphed them.  So much fun!   Oh and after that - they got to gobble them up!

Click here to download the document
Graphing Peeps Worksheet

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Easter Crafts for the First Graders

I love tying together crafts and learning. I was subbing in a first grade classroom for almost 2 weeks and decided I would throw in some crafts as classroom rewards for good behavior.

The first craft was a bunny topper for a writing piece. I read the story "It's Not Easy Being a Bunny" aloud, charted some commentary from our whole class discussion, and had the kids partner talk. They chose from two prompts: 'It's not easy being a bunny,...' and 'If I were a bunny...'. The kiddos then wrote a rough draft and conferred with a partner. When they were ready they received the materials for the craft.

I originally created these bunny toppers after being inspired by the Leaping Leprechaun toppers made by A Cupcake For the Teacher. Then after painstakingly hand drawing my bunny patterns, I saw that she uploaded her own bunny craftivity. It is called Bunny Hop and you can buy it in her TpT store if you like the idea.  She is one creative teacher, I love following her blog.

The other craft we did was a stained glass Easter egg using contact paper, construction paper, tissue paper and glue. They turned out so awesome! To sprinkle in some learning, we reviewed patterns, charted the different kinds, then demonstrated how each row of our Easter Eggs could be a different pattern using the tissue squares. Some kids latched onto this idea more than others. I loved them all anyway!

You can find the instructions for this stained glass Easter egg project here.

Happy Easter, friends!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

DIY Simple & Cute Diaper Cake

I am at that time in my life where everyone around me is either getting married or having babies.  I love giving practical gifts.  One of my favorite gifts to give for baby showers is a diaper cake.  They are so versatile, depending on your budget you can make a really simple diaper cake, or you can make an elaborate one with a ton of stuff on it.  I personally like the more simplistic and clean look similar to the picture above.  The mother to be will have diapers (a hot commodity) and possibly a cute stuffed animal with gift card to Babies R Us or Target.

General Guidelines for DIY Diaper Cake:

Materials: 96 diapers, 4 yards of scrap string/ribbon, decorative ribbon, round tray or plate, adhesive tape, hot glue and decorative elements, toys or gifts to attach

1. Follow tutorial How to Make A Professional Diaper Cake to get your base cake ready
2. Measure ribbon for each layer and add 2 inches for overlap.
3. Lay out decorative elements like stickers, beads, buttons, extra bows that you will add to each layer.
4. Using roll-on adhesive tape attach ribbon to itself snugly onto each layer.
5. Hot glue any decorative elements to the ribbon.

Here is the diaper cake almost completed.  The family was having a baby boy with the last name Lamb, no first name chosen yet.  They also have a passion for basketball so the theme of the baby shower was going to be basketball. The only thing left to add is a topper and gift card.  For this cake, the plan was to add a little baby pair of Air Jordans and a gift card to Babies R Us.

There are two ways that I know of to make diaper cakes.  This was my first time attempting the swirly looking cake.  The other way would be to roll each diaper like the one I made in picture below.  As you can see, it's a little wonky looking, but still cute with only a few decorative elements. If you are interested, here is a great tutorial on how to make it in this style. Both ways are fairly easy, just a bit time consuming.  I think I like the swirly way better and especially now that I know how easy it is to make.

Diaper cake made by rolling each individual diaper.
Diaper cakes are a great gift to attempt if you have a creative side.  You can make them as simple or gaudy as you like.  Try not to agonize over the millions of options and just have fun!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Attention Getters for Teachers to Use

I love the call and response strategy to pull kids in, get them organized or simply to get their attention.  I've seen a few different attention getter lists floating around the internet and it inspired me.  Here's one I created, I tried to make it cute in case anybody else wanted to save it.  I'm kind of curious to see who will download this, leave me a comment if you do!

Click the picture to grab my very first freebie.

I noticed that it looks a little weird in Google docs, but it will download as what you see above.  Enjoy!