I’m Moving Up

 

I’m so excited to announce I’m looping up to third grade with my class from this year! My teaching partner and I made the decision to move up together and become third grade teachers!

Since I started teaching four and a half years ago, I have only taught second grade. I think I’ve been very good at it and I’ve gotten very comfortable with it…but I am so excited for this change and to shake things up!

I’m so glad I will get my current group of kids for one more year. They truly are an awesome group and with COVID, I was sad I didn’t get to end the year with them at school. I will love having them again. I also feel looping with them will be beneficial because I will know where I left off with them before the school closure and where I need to get them to be at.

I will be teaching ELAR and social studies. These are my favorite subjects to teach. I have been departmentalized in second grade the past two years and I LOVE it. I just really love the ability to hone your skills into the subjects you are most passionate about and to really learn about your subjects. When I taught self contained, I always felt like I was trying too hard to fit everything.

The biggest challenge will be the stress of the test when it gets here. Y’all know what I’m talking about. The state mandated testing….in Texas, it’s the STAAR test. I’ve never taught a STAAR grade before, but I have no doubt that I can handle it.

My classroom currently looks like a hot mess due to switching out materials and curriculum. I’m lucky I get to keep the same classroom and I don’t have to change rooms.

All in all, I’m so excited for this change!!

Third grade here I come!

-Mrs. Kaldahl

Seeing the Positives

I think that over the past two months there has been so much focus on the negative situations and events regarding schools transitioning to remote learning that we need to start realizing that some really good things came from it too.

Yes, there have been several things taken away from us as teachers and our students that can only take place in a traditional school. These things include field trips, field days, graduation, simply seeing a student “get it,” face-to-face communication, hugs, proms, and the list can go on and on. I think though, that there have been some positives that have come out of this situation that we should definitely remember.

As teachers we have always put our students’ well being first, but I think that remote learning has made even us go above and beyond what we were doing before. We have had to deeply consider our students home lives and how it affects their learning. We’ve had to consider variables and whether they’re able to partake at all in remote learning. And even though we also provide paper packets, not every student is able to complete that form of work either at no fault of their own. We also have to consider their parents lives and whether they’re able to help their child learn at home. Most parents work jobs or are single parents and it isn’t possible to get everything their child needs to get done at home done. I think we really need to consider going into the future that we will always have some students that will be unable to participate in any remote learning. With that being said, I think that a lot of GRACE and COMPASSION is going around in the education community and we need to continue that same grace when we return to our traditional classrooms.

This leads to more emphasis on social emotional learning as well. SEL is a topic that I’m still learning about and would like to learn more about. I think the development in the interest of the topic is directly related to the COVID school closures. After all, our students will not be successful if we do not make sure the WHOLE child is taken care of.

There has also been an emphasis on self care for everyone. Teachers have been encouraged to not try to do too much or push themselves too hard. We all know we are guilty of doing that regardless if the learning is traditional or remote. We as teachers need to learn to slow down. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. As much as we want to and do take care of our students, we have to take care of ourselves first to be the best teacher we can be for them.

In my experience, some students THRIVE in this online environment. Some students that were shy in the classroom are in their element during this time. I’ve even had students who have taken up coding and have taught me some things. I think we really need to realize how important student choice is. Yes, we always do our best to give students choices in their learning, but I think this has been very eye opening that we need to try to give them even more choice to pursue their interests when we return to the school buildings. So much authentic learning can take place in an online environment with research and pursuing interests. I think it’d be a shame not to put more of that into place in our classrooms in the future.

Even though ¬†face-to-face communication isn’t taking place, there is still communication going on. Messages, phone calls, etc. is all happening with students and parents. I really think it’s helped us realize that parents and teachers really are a TEAM in our students learning.

I also think people have somewhat realized how much teachers do. I’m not saying this because I am a teacher. Remember, I never planned to be a teacher, so when I became one, I quickly realized that teachers do far more than I ever realized. This is for my fellow teachers who are rockstars! I am loving all the praise that they are receiving from the public. I hope this continues and we continue to emphasize just how important teachers are.

I’m sure there are more positives I could think of that has come from this unfortunate situation we are in, but these are off the top of my head. I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe!

 

-Mrs. Kaldahl

 

My Thoughts on Distance Learning

This year has been so different from any other year that I have taught.

I mean we went on Spring Break and never went back!

The things happening in the world have drastically affected education. Our teacher hearts broke the day they announced that schools would be closed through the end of the year. Believe me, we would rather it be this way than risk a single of our kids or co-workers getting sick. But, this is the time we as teachers look forward to every year.

We work the first half of the year teaching routines and procedures. It takes until Christmas to get everything flowing right. After Christmas break we have to get them back on track. Sometimes it seems like we will never get there, but we somehow always do. This leads us to our golden time with our students. This is when we have solidified our relationships with our students. We have truly become a family.

As a class family we look forward to all of the fun end of the year things we get to do together. Like field trips, field day, more fun units of study, etc. This year we don’t get any of that. It’s not just about that though. As I said, this is the time we truly become a family. The kids that enter our classroom each day truly become OUR KIDS. We miss them. We miss making sure they’re okay, seeing them learn, and watching them grow.

It is sad that these moments were taken from us.

I hope that once all this is over with, people remember how much teachers truly care about their kids. You will rarely meet a teacher who is just in it for the paycheck. It’s always about the kids.

With state testing being cancelled for this school year, I hope that state legislatures realize that we don’t need mandated testing for students to learn. Teachers don’t need them to tell them what to teach. We know what our kids need and it’s not teaching to a test.

I hope we never take for granted any school day, the hugs we get from students, the conversations with co-workers, or the daily hustle of it all.

I can say without a doubt I would much rather be teaching in my classroom than doing distance learning and I can’t wait until the day we get back to normal.

 

Summer Finds

It’s inevitable that every teacher will think about their classroom during the summer. Even the teachers, like me, who told themselves they wouldn’t. While I did better this summer to relax and recoup for the upcoming school year, I still came across a few things I couldn’t pass up.

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I found this bookcase on the Facebook marketplace. I’ve seen bookcases like this selling for $50 and I’ve always thought they were adorable. I knew when I found this one for $15 (actually $10 after she found out I was a teacher) I had to snatch it up. The lady even threw in a matching standing bookshelf for free.

Below is a picture of it in my classroom.

*My classroom is not set up yet for the new school year. I just moved some stuff around and put some things in their place because I had to move some furniture out of my room to repaint it.

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I’ve also had my eye on these garden tables (pictured above). I finally purchased them when I found them on sale at Big Lots for $12. I just think they’re so cute. I know I can find a use for them in my flexible seating classroom.

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Last, I’d like to thank generous people who willingly give to classrooms. I didn’t purchase the books or markers in the photo above. A friend from college asked me to create an Amazon wishlist of books I’d like for my classroom. She then purchased and had these books (and markers) sent to me. I’ve wanted these books for so long for my kiddos to enjoy and now they can.

Teachers spend so much of their own money to keep their classroom running and to provide students with necessary things (or just things we think will make their learning environment more enjoyable) so when someone gives back to us it makes our job so much easier. It also reminds me that there are people out there who “get it” and know how much we as teachers do.

I head back to work Wednesday for our first teacher workday. I know the 2018-2019 school year is going to be a great one!

 

-Mrs. Kaldahl

What I’m Up To

Hello there again!

You’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to this summer.

I know what I haven’t been doing and that’s obsessing over school. Usually I’d spend most the summer getting my room ready, over preparing for the year ahead, and stressing myself out before the year even started.

This year, I’ve decided to go with a different approach. One where I actually recuperate during the summer and I must say, I’m loving it.

This summer, I’ve picked back up on a writing project I started awhile ago. I’m about 30,000 words into my first novel. It’s a new adult mystery. It’s also has some romance, with some witty humor here and there. So far, I’ve received good feedback from those reading it as I finish chapters.

Writing is something that comes easy for me, but it’s also super hard. Especially when trying to write a novel. If you ever meet an author, give them a pat on the back because they deserve it. Writing a book is hard and courageous. Authors deserve more praise than they receive.

I also have a few children’s books I’m working on.

I’m hopeful I will get one of my projects published one day.

I was born to be a writer and it feels good to finally be writing again.

-Lauren