Thursday, September 22, 2011

PTCs: "My Favorite Things"

I survived my first Parent Teacher Conferences!  Yes--first.  I never went to them while I was student teaching because both schools had them right before/ after I was there.  It was sweet!  But... I was nervous about my very first ones with no one to coach me.  But they went well! :)  And when we were growing up if we had good PTCs my dad would take us out for ice cream--he agreed before he remembered that was supposed to be my hubby's job now.

I'm so happy it is over that I wrote a song.  It is sung to "My Favorite Things."  (And believe me, these are my favorite things involving PTCs!)

Students with good grades and supportive parents
Eating free dinners and uplifting comments,
No school on Friday yes my heart sings,
These are a few of my favorite things!

When the kid whines, when the night drags
When I'm feeling sad, 
I simply remember my favorite things
and then I don't feel so bad.

No school tomorrow and resting instead
No solving problems and sleeping in bed
No student drama with all that it brings
These are a few of my favorite things!

In case you couldn't tell, my FAVORITE part about Parent Teacher Conferences is NO SCHOOL TOMORROW!!! :D :D :D 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Healthy" Cinnamon Rolls

Ok.  Lets be honest for a moment.  Cinnamon rolls and healthy are not exactly compatible.  But... this morning I did my best to merge them.  It was my turn to make our weekly tradition of hot breakfast Saturdays and cinnamon rolls sounded amazing.  I did not figure out a calorie count.  I didn't really care because I made them as healthy as I could and then only ate until I was full.

Here is my justification for it being healthy--it is fat free and has very little sugar.  It is 100% whole grain and loaded with fiber.  Plus it has lots of raisins--which are not the lowest calorie food but I figured hey, it was fruit! :)  And just so you are aware, these are actually "biscuits" not "rolls."  The difference being they are not meant to rise/ get fluffy and so it speeds up the process.  These are fast!  It is more the texture of a biscuit but it seriously tastes amazing!

2 c. whole wheat flour
1 T. baking powder
2 t. Splenda
1/2 t. cream tartar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. white beans, drained & rinsed
2/3 c. skim milk

1/3 c. Splenda
1/8 c. brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon
15-20+ squirts Parkay butter spray
1/2 c. raisins

4 oz fat free cream cheese, room temperature
Splenda, enough to reach desire consistency  (I cheated a little... I used probably 1/3 - 1/2 c. Splenda and maybe a few tablespoons of powdered sugar)
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 400*F.  Stir flour, baking powder, 2 t. splenda, cream of tartar and salt together.  Cut in beans until coarse crumbs (this is the same technique as cutting in butter--it really works, I promise and you seriously can't taste the difference!).  Stir in milk.  Knead dough on a lightly floured counter 2-3 times.  Roll dough out into a long rectangle.

Spray the dough rectangle with Parkay spray and rub it around with your fingers until it has a light coat.  In a separate bowl, combine the 1/3 c. Splenda, brown sugar, cinnamon.  Spread mixture on top of dough then sprinkle with raisins.

Beginning at the long edge, roll dough into a log.  Using dental floss cut into ~1 in slices.  (My log made exactly 20 rolls.  I might have cut them slightly small.)  Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and place the rolls on it.  They can be fairly close together because they won't rise too much.

Bake at 400*F for about 14-15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Place on cooling rack.

Beat the cream cheese.  Add in the splenda (and a little powdered sugar) and vanilla and continue to beat until it is your desired consistency.  Personally, I like it more like a frosting not a glaze so I like it thicker.  Frost/ glaze the top of the rolls.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Happy Healthy Cinnamon Roll Making! :D

Friday, September 16, 2011

Purpose of Music: GO COUGS!

Sometimes when kids come in, I will have music playing.  Other times I used it as part of my lesson.  Sometimes I play relaxing music to keep them calm and quiet.  Music can be used as a timer or transition.  Really music off youtube is great for almost everything in my classroom.

But today.  Today it had one purpose.  Indoctrination.

I think I played it at least 2-3 times during each period; plus another 1-2 during the hallway passing period. And... allow me just to say...  I miss happy valley.  Up here BYU is definitely in the minority.  But I wouldn't let my kids put it down or me down.  I told them that since I was the only adult in the room with a college degree, I got to pick the music.  And if they chose to go to the rival school, that is great.  I hope they do go to college.  But for today we are supporting my alumni!  :)


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

student comprehends; I experience shock

After most of the kids had left today, I ventured out to the hall way to get a paper or something.  I can't remember.  Anyway, I saw one of my students and noticed that her arm was wrapped up.  So I stopped to talk to her and I impressed myself because I actually remembered her name.  (This is SO hard for me.  I pray everyday to be able to name my kids one by one.  I think I witnessed an answer to my prayer today the way I was able to place her name completely out of the blue.)

She told me that she was making top ramen in the microwave (sidenote: the microwave??) and when she was getting it out, it burnt her arm.  Then she proudly told me that she treated the burn the way she had learned in my class.  Wait.  Hold up.  You were actually paying attention when we went over all the basic first aid treatments??  AND you were able to apply what I taught you to real life??


I seriously about died from shock.  That is like my dream as a teacher to actually be able to touch the future--not just try to cram in info for a test.  I finally see hope.

My teaching career is complete (for today) as we know it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Reliving the Tears

Yesterday during morning announcements, something interesting happened.  My principal came on the intercom and talked to the kids about remembering 9/11 and paying a tribute to it.  She said that one of our students requested we say the pledge everyday because her father is a marine and overseas right now.  We all stood up and recited the pledge.  And then my principal came back on.  She was talking to the kids and then asked all the teachers to turn on our TVs and they were going to stream a 9/11 tribute for the kids to watch.

10 years ago, my students were probably between the ages of 1-4.  They have no idea what happened but have grown up hearing about it there whole lives.  They live in the affects but they don't remember 9/11.

The video starts.  It was off of youtube.  I have no idea which 10 year tribute video was shown though.  My students are all watching it fairly quietly and respectfully.  I'm wandering around the classroom and my eyes start getting teary eyed.  I walk back and get a Kleenex.  Some of the students noticed but no one said anything.  The video continues.  I started crying.  I took some more Kleenexes and left my room.  I stood in the hall and wiped away tears.  I could still hear it but at least I didn't have to watch the pictures.  My entire class noticed I left and they all sat silently, realizing how much the video touched me--but not really understanding why.  I wasn't even expecting this reaction.

Afterwards, I was going to do my best to say a short 1-2 sentences about it and then move on.  That didn't happen.  The kids wanted to know why I was so touched.  They were curious.  And they were silent.  Someone would raise their hand and ask a question about what happened on 9/11 or where I was or etc and everyone else listened.  Then another question.  This went on for a 1/2 hour.  I decided there are more important things to learn then just whats on the lesson plan and so I talked to them.

Here is the thing though, I have seen countless pictures in the past 10 years from 9/11, I have watched documentaries, I have read articles.  None of these moved me to tears.  So why yesterday?  Well, all of the sudden watching pictures on this chunky, old-school TV mounted near the roof of my classroom brought back a wave of memories.  I watched 9/11 happen live on the same TVs.  I saw the second tower get hit live on these TVs and watched it collapse live and heard the presidential conference on these TVs and everything that happened on 9/11 was on these old, chunky, need updating TVs.

10 years ago tomorrow, it was picture day.  I was standing in my parent's bathroom, curling my hair when the first tower was hit.  I was in 8th grade.  We still rotated to all of our classes, but it was simply rotating rooms and still watching the TV, all day.  Before we went for pictures, our teacher let us go to the bathroom to wash our faces with cold water to try to hide the red eyes and tear streaks.  Some pictures in that yearbook just look sad.

Watching the tribute yesterday brought me back to 8th grade, a day filled with everyone crying and no one knowing what was going to happen, probably because I am back to the same school.  I am seriously in the exact same place I was 10 years ago and watching the exact same pictures.  And so my students saw that I have feelings and watched me cry and even walk out of the room.

Where were you 10 years ago?  What were you doing?  Has anyone else's life path took them back to the exact same place you were when you watched 9/11 happen?
P.S.  I'm just curious.  To my international readers, what impact, if any, did 9/11/2001 have on you?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

the 2 minute phone call

A couple days ago, I felt like I should call home to a parent thanking them for sharing their student with me in class.  I thought it was kind of an odd feeling though because the student was not even in my class the day I called.  I was calling about the time before when said student was actually there.  But I made a decision long ago to follow through with promptings from the Holy Ghost so I figured out the phone number and dialed.

"Hi is this {fill-in-the-blank name}'s mom?"
"This is {fill-in-the blank name}'s FACS teacher."  
(as soon as I announced who I was I could almost hear the dread silence.  What happened?  Now what has my student done?  How many more punishments can I come up with?  You know the heavy sigh I am talking about.)
"Um, I'm actually calling to thank you for sharing your student with me.  He/she was not here today and I missed them.  But I just wanted to tell you about what happened in class last time.  I have had some struggles in the past but last time was amazing!  Your student was quiet and respectful and on task.  I am just really grateful I have the opportunity to get to know your son/daughter and I really appreciated his/her behavior last time."
(pause.  Long pause.  I could feel the air change.  Shock is the best word to describe the sound.)
I can't remember exactly how the parent responded.  But it was filled with gratitude.  I found out the student was suspended (hence the reason he/she was not at class that day) and it meant the world to the mother knowing that someone appreciated and thought highly of her son/daughter.

My 2 minute phone call changed that mother's day.  And I am sure it affected my student.  I decided I can spend 2 minutes a day calling home to praise student behavior if it means so much to them.  So I started looking for more students that were working hard and are amazing.  And then I let my fingers start dialing--and you want to know what the results were the same:
First response upon learning who I was: dread.
Second respond: shock.
Third response: gratitude.
What can you do for 2 minutes a day that will touch someone else's life? :)