Thursday, February 18, 2010

In Which I Write Nothing About Writing

Oh, February.  How you vex me.  Teaching first grade in February goes something like this:



You've had all the holidays in December (plus I co-lead a first grade concert where another first grade teacher and I teach all of our 200-ish first graders songs about peace), then winter break.  You come back in January and hope for a nice, long, uninterrupted stretch of teaching time (except it's assessment and report card time).  And then, just when you're on a really productive roll, you run smack-dab into February.  I would really like to continue to teach important things like reading and writing biographies, how to tell time, and observing guppies and bess beetles like scientists in February.  You know.  Things we are learning right now.

But February has other ideas.  February only has 28 days to begin with, so it kind of mocks us from the start, giving us less time to work with.  20 of those days are weekdays.  Minus two days off for Presidents' Day (we get a long weekend, Friday & Monday).  Minus a half day for parent conferences.  Minus, this year, two more days for snow.  Which leaves a grand total of 15 and a half teaching days.

But guess what else happens in February?  Groundhog's Day.  Presidents' Day.  Valentine's Day.  Chinese New Year.  Dental Health Month.  Heart Healthy Month.  Black History Month.  The 100th day of school, which, in elementary school, has turned into a mathtastic celebration day.  All of those things are fun and/or interesting and/or important, so I'm not complaining about them.  Just the fact that they all occur in February, and even if we learn about/celebrate each of those things for one day, that leaves six full days of school.  Now, of course, we're teachers, we're masters at multitasking and integrating, so we observe and celebrate through reading, writing, math, and other equally educational activities.  And, ok, every now and then we make a craft.  Which, even in my very highly academic school district, we still do (every now and then, not nearly enough) in first grade.  So it becomes Whack-A-Mole:  Hitting all different things in a very short amount of time. (Note to potential first graders:  Don't even think about having a birthday in February.)

Don't get me wrong, I love celebrating interesting days with my kiddies, and they are small and many of mine are learning about American holidays and cultural activities for the first time.  So it is important to spend time on these things.  I'm not complaining about that.  But it also throws us out of routine (which is difficult at this age), and (ok, so this is just my hangup) Type A me wants to make sure that they continue to progress through reading levels, writing genres, and math skills... and there's only so much you can do to tie in Groundhog's Day with biography writing without completely interrupting what they were working on.  (Yes, we could interrupt midway through writing bios about our parents to write one for Punxsatawney Phil.  But really.) 

I hear we may be getting walloped with snow again Monday into Tuesday (we only have one built-in snow day left, eek).  Oh, and subtract today from my total, because I just got home with a pocketful of gold (aka Amoxicillin) after a doctor's appointment  and pharmacy visit for my sinus infection.   Which is probably why this post sounds a lot grumpier than I actually am (and is full of needless parentheses).

Today, by the way, is the 100th day of school.  Apologies to my substitute, but this mole is hers to whack.

18 comments:

Piedmont Writer said...

I am not a teacher but I am a Mommy and I hear you all the way over here. My child had a week out of school for snow, the whole Valentine's-President's-Ground hog-thing got shoved into 4 days, because of the holiday. She walked in the door 2 days ago and said she was going to brush her teeth, out of the blue, no nagging from me (which is a good thing but I wish someone would have let me know it's Dental month -- and will she forget about it in March) and now, she's asking about the Easter Bunny.

Where are the days when we studied Abe, George and Thomas for the whole month? We spent one day making a Valenitne card for our Mom (because Dad didn't really like the schmaltzy stuff) and then we got on with reading writing and arithmatic. How much more do kids have to learn?

roxy said...

Love this blog. You are so funny! I'm glad you got the antibiotics. I never knew half of the stuff you shared in here about February. I'm almost afraid to ask, but how's March looking?

Dangerous With a Pen said...

I'll tell ya, Piedmont Writer... it's crazy!

Thanks, Roxy! :) Man, am I ever glad for antibiotics, too. Usually I am one of those people who puts off going to the doctor for WAY too long, which is really not smart because it almost always turns into something that begins with "asthmatic", which is never fun, and because I have and work with small kids. You'd think I would learn.

Wait... this time I got meds early... maybe I'm learning! :D

Shelley Sly said...

I'm not a teacher either, but I'm a substitute, and I feel like every day in every school it's Something Day. If it's not a half day or a snow day or early dismissal or midterm exam week, it's a legit holiday or a made-up holiday. Since I just moved to this town a few months ago, I'd like to get a feel for what a "normal" day of school is like, but so far every day is something. It must be even more exhausting for you! Good luck with it all!

Lisa and Laura said...

Oh my gosh, you just brought back many memories for me. I used to teach 6th grade, so I can commiserate. This winter is brutal--I can't even imagine trying to work through an actual curriculum with all the snowy interruptions. Good luck getting the kids back on track!

Tiffany Neal said...

Hahahaha!!! Feel your pain, believe me!!

And in Texas in 4th grade we take a writing test the first week of March.

AAAIIIGGGGHHHH!!

Sometimes I wonder if I sound like Charlie Brown's teacher when I'm talking to them.

Amy Tate said...

Oh my goodness! And I thought my life was nutty, lol! Thanks for joining my blog - I hope you'll stop in again soon! I look forward to reading more about your writing journey too!

Christine Danek said...

I so hear you. If we get more snow I think I will move....Hawaii perhaps. It is the only state without snow. My kids are about to tear the walls down. Good luck at school:)

storyqueen said...

I used to teach first grade before my job changed into the weird one I have now.

Feb+March+first graders = headache.

Hope you feel better!

Shelley

Jemi Fraser said...

As a fellow teacher, I agree - it's just like whack-a-mole!!!

We don't get snow days - teachers always must show up, so school is always open no matter what. Actually, it's been pretty mild snow-wise up here - I think you poor folks got it all. Probably means we'll get a ton in March :)

I like the fact you get a half-day for conferences. I wish!

Anissa said...

Wow! I never realized there was so much going on in February! You guys must start later than us, my son's Kindergarten class celebrated their 100 days a few weeks back (if I'm remembering right).

Nisa said...

Oh my goodness. I loved whack-a-mole as a kid, but this is extreme! I wish you the best of luck! And I do hope you're feeling better soon!

roxy said...

Hey, Dangerous. I'm just adding to my comment above. (I posted an award for you this morning.)

Crystal Cook said...

I've been hearing about your blog for a while and thought I would finally check it out. I love those striped socks, coolness! Anyway, just wanted to meet a fellow writer and follow along with you on your first book! I am also there with you, mommy to 3, but not a teacher, although I volunteer at my son's school so often that I feel your pain! I do.

Dangerous With a Pen said...

The plot thickens...

Today my VP came in to tell me that I am getting a new student on Monday. AND on Thursday, a group of teachers and admins from another school district is coming to watch me teach reading & writing workshops because they are going to start it in their district. On that same day, two college sophomores start their semester with me (every Thursday, all day, all semester) for their Child Development and Literacy classes.

What're 3 more moles? Whack on! :)

Jonathon Arntson said...

If I become a teacher, which is the backup plan, we'll celebrate the 146th day.

Thanks for following my blog!

Jackee said...

My mom teaches first grade and I know she feels the same way too. And since my oldest is a first grader, I can feel the strain of this month vicariously, especially when I'm in there volunteering. They're all so restless!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Dangerous With a Pen said...

I really wouldn't suggest teaching as a "back up plan". It's the kind of profession you really have to love to persevere its craziness and do well.