Thursday, December 18, 2008

For the Love of Cupcakes...and Fourth Graders

I'm amateur at best, but decorating these little babies was so fun! I finally used my new decorating bag correctly. I'm learning how to use each different tip and I'll definately use a smaller one for the letters next time. It might not look like much, but I think ten year olds might like them. If nothing else, they'll be nice and messy! Hooray! (Note: I totally arranged the letters randomly and noticed there's a "KKK"...that will be fixed before tomorrow! And if you're wondering about the cursive "S" that was my first cupcake, I opted for the print letters after mangling that one!)

Tomorrow is our "Winter Celebration" and here's what ran through my mind at Tuesday's staff meeting:
Principal: I know that some of you are planning to have a Winter Celebration on Friday. Some of you thought I didn't know, but I do. Just make sure that every activity is connected to core content!
Me: Crap! She found out! Core Content...brain scans writing core content...Core Content...brain scans Science core content....Got It! We'll throw some red and green ice cubes in our Sprite, whip out the Science notebooks, and sketch the colors of the solid ice melting in the liquid drink every five minutes. Done and Done! A lame connection, but damn it, it's fourth grade Core Content. Take that! (We'll also be doing a lot of reading and writing during the party, but we have to review solids and liquids eventually, so we might as well start now.) While I was making cupcakes, Chud was making six trays of red and green ice cubes. Isn't he the best?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ego Boost

My brother plays bluegrass music. And he's good. I'm not just being biased because I'm his sister. I know music, and he's good. He's been playing my Mom's guitar for years and now he's in this rockabilly band that is really great. He can write songs, he can sing and boy, can he play. Last year, he and his bluegrass buddies decided to get together and make a band called "The Annual Christmas Album Band." The idea is they all come together to make a Christmas album every year. Their CD last year was awesome. This year they gave the project a theme - "Christmas Rodeo." Their songs are well executed and the lyrics are hilarious!

Now that we live in Louisville, I was able to SING on Jordan's album! I went over to his house tonight to record "Rodeo Star of Bethlehem" a la Emmylou Harris. Jordan played guitar while I sang, then I went back over it and recorded the harmony. It was more fun than I've had in a long time and Jordan was pretty impressed. I can't wait until the CD's finished and I can force all my friends to listen to it. So those of you that know me well, get ready. You're going to hear it and you're going to LOVE it....or else!

Also, as if that wasn't fun enough, Jordan asked Chud to play drums for his band Friday night. Me on a CD and my husband in a band. I bet we're the coolest people you know, right?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Time's A Comin'!

Oh, here it is! We had the best weekend ever and I'm finally stoked about Christmas. It's my favorite time of year and if it were up to me, the radio would play Christmas music all ---- year ---- long.

Yesterday I went to Emily's jewelry party and let me tell you, the "Blingtini's" were fantastic! Her house was decked out in the stylish ways of Chirstmas that only Emily can capture and I bought three pieces, as if I didn't have enough already. Merry Christmas to me! Then we had dinner with Laura and Pete, who are always lovely company. Good times with good friends. It's days like that when I wish we were still in Lexington. I could have stayed at Emily's and played games all night long. *sigh*

Alas, we came back to Louisville last night and I had the best night's sleep I had in a long time. How do I know? I did more "stuff" today than I've done on a Sunday in a long time. In a nutshell, my day went like this: shower, church, start a pot roast, shopping shopping shopping shopping shopping (five stores total), wrapping wrapping wrapping wrapping wrapping wrapping (that's right, people, I did 90% of my shopping and wrapping in ONE DAY), eat pot roast, wash dishes, make chili for pot luck at school tomorrow...I did it ALL! And it feels GOOD. I even cleaned out my "christmas trunk" filled with gifts never given or gifts waiting to be re-gifted so I could take them all to school to give to my kids - that's how much junk I had in there. Ahhh. Success.

Next week we head north to Mom's house to celebrate the holidays with family and I can't WAIT! After we see everyone and hug everyone and laugh with everyone, Chud and I are heading to Charleston, South Carolina to celebrate our anniversary. Two years! And happier than ever, I might add.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oh, The Things They Will Say!

I've been working with D all year on appropriate language and behavior. Thanks to our hard work, he has stopped hitting me, knocking things over, and cussing. He's been wildly successful lately, so you can imagine my surprise when he approached me today and said....

D: Mrs. Fasciotto, I need a new hooker.
Me: (audible gasp) D! We do NOT say that word in school.
D: But....I need HOOKER! (other kids laugh)
Me: (pulling him to the side) D, that may be the way some people talk at home, but we do not talk like that at school. (long pause) Wait. What are you talking about?
D: (clearly frustrated) Mrs. Fasciotto, I need me a new hooker! (as he shoves a paper clip in my face)

Holding back tears of laughter I look directly at him and say, "D, we call that a paper clip." I give him a new one, he goes back to his group, and they finish their science investigation.

I do love fourth graders.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thank God for Little Girls

This has been the best and worst week of my teaching career. Yesterday I left school looking for the nearest WalMart that was hiring. That's right, people. I was ready to go work at WalMart. I almost called my prinicpal to say "I'm done. Find somebody else. I'm miserable and I don't deserve this." I was dreading going to my classroom today. I cried all the way there.

I have some very challenging students this year, in particular, some very troubling boys. Yesterday, two of them were back from a five day suspension after getting in a fist fight, and they brought their wrath down on all of us. Yesterday, my classroom was a place where no one learned a thing and no one wanted to be there. I was nagging, mean - just the most horrid teacher you've ever seen. By the end of the day, the only way I could fight back the tears was to yell and scream and shake - I even pulled a muscle in my neck because I was so tense. The sound that came out of my mouth was unlike any sound I've ever heard. If my principal had been there, I'd surely be without a job at the moment. It was the lowest I've ever sunk. Just terrible.

After a much needed pep talk from a fellow teacher last night, I got to school nice and early today. I prepared lots of new behavior charts and systems, put in place some new rewards, changed a few procedures to make the day run more smoothly. But I was terrified of picking up my kids at 8:55. I wasn't sure I could look at them without crying. But I bucked up and showed up to the bus room with a smile plastered on my face. I forced myself to say good morning to every one of them, like I do every day, and I led them upstairs. As I was sitting at my desk, one of my little girls came up to me and said, "Mrs. F, I have a present for you!" Determined to change my attitude and have a good day, I smiled at her and said, "Oh goody! What is it?" instead of "Not now, you have work to do."

This little girl is one of those who does everything she can to impress her teacher. She shows up every day with finger curls in her hair, a smile on her face, and warmth in her heart. She makes a point to say nice things to everyone at her table before the day starts. She hugs all her friends at the end of the day. She's just the sweetest thing you've ever seen. She told me to close my eyes and hold out my hands. She placed something small and jingly in my palm. I kept my eyes closed and shook it next to my ear to guess what it could be. I opened my eyes to see a small, silver ring covered in green and red jingle bells. It fit perfectly on my index finger and it jingled whenever I moved my hand. I don't know why, but when I put it on, all of my troubles just melted away and I was reminded that kids are good. Kids are sweet. Kids are full of love and capable of real sentiment. With that tiny gift, my attitude and my heart did a total 180 degree turn from where I was before. I would go so far as to say, that pretty little girl saved my career.

Our day was still a challenge. I still have boys that would sooner scream obscenities at each other and run out of the room before talking about their feelings. I still have kids who can't handle working in groups and I still spent most of my morning dealing with misbehavior. But today I made a commitment to pay attention to those kids that are making the right choices. I was determined to give compliments instead of "constructive criticism" (because that would be nagging and pointless). I forced myself to smile and it worked. When you smile at kids, they smile back. My kids rocked it out this afternoon. I know it's a direct result of my decision to love them whether they liked it or not. By the end of the day, we were all smiling. And it warmed my heart.

I didn't know it at the time, but that little girl must have been the reason I went to school today.

Thanks, Shante!