Sunday, April 26, 2015

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

I always swear I am going to be updating this good old blog...and then life gets so busy. This past week was no exception.

I had a huge French certification test yesterday morning. I have been planning to get my certification in French (especially now that it is only 8 credits in addition to my CST) and was pushed more because I think they are trying to make me teach 7th & 8th grade next year (I currently teach 6th grade French and its do-able because you can teach 1 out of your content area). Insert panic attack when I had a little less than 4 weeks to prepare. Y' took me THREE TIMES to pass the Spanish one (and only because I missed passing the 2nd time by 1 pt!).

I was so nervous yesterday. Considering I barely slept the night before, it was going to make for a fun day. Oh, and the GPS got me COMPLETELY lost even though I have taken over exams before (I should've gone the way I knew and not the GPS' way). But I still made it. There were only 5 of us in the room taking it and we did the listening on headphones. I actually liked that and think I got a lot of it right. The rest of the test was a bit ridiculous....the readings were so long and I just had to do my best because it is been 6/7 years since I took a French class. The writing was pretty easy and my speaking I think I did okay on. I don't get the results until May 22nd. But it does have me worried because the human resources person said there's an ad for my position out "just in case and no pressure." TALK ABOUT PRESSURE! I was the only one the interviewed originally because I knew both languages so here is to hoping that A). I passed B). No one applies and C). They keep me. I cried the entire way home from work on Thursday because I am petrified I don't have a job next year and I have been so happy to be in this wonderful district. I love my co-workers (not that I didn't love them in the last district I worked in) and my chair is super pleased with me. So keep your fingers crossed....this is going to be a long wait!

And to top it off, my chair was suppose to observe me on Thursday and he forgot...oops! He came in on Wednesday during my French class but they were working on their menus. He is coming  back tomorrow so I need to make sure the lesson is pretty top notch. We're doing colors and I had them singing on Thursday so you bet they will have to sing tomorrow. I really want to stay in this district because it's an EXCELLENT district and I love it.

And in other news, 2016 will be the year of least for me!! Many of my friends are engaged. My best friend April from home got engaged at the beginning of April in Disney. My best friend Stephanie (from college) got engaged at the end of February. Heather (also from college) and Eric got engaged in November/December. Olivia and Marc got engaged February 2014. Jade and Matt got engaged November 2012/2013 (I can't remember...she was the first to get engaged).

A few weeks after Stephanie and David got engaged, she called me to ask me to be in her wedding. Of course I said yes! I am the only friend from college in it. She and her fiance are getting married October 15, 2016 in Miami, Florida. I am super excited because it will be warm and I have never been to Miami before.

Earlier this week, Olivia texted me and said "10/21/16.....GET READY!" I just knew it was her wedding date! She had been toying with September/October dates and I am super excited she is getting on with the planning process. She is getting married at The Somerley here on Long Island so at least there is no plane fare involved. I do get to take off from school (or wherever I am) since it is a Friday and I am in that wedding too! Being a bridesmaid X 2 in less than 7 days.

Then about two days later, Heather texts me to tell me her date is June 4, 2016 in Santa Fe, New Mexico! Again, I have never been there so that will be an adventure and will have to miss school/work. Totally worth it.

After all these dates, I texted April and said "Please don't get married 6/4/16, 10/15/16 or 10/21/16!" I didn't want to come off as bossy but April is my best friend and I am in her wedding (although she hasn't formally asked yet....she keeps asking my opinion on bridesmaid dresses) and she goes "LOL No problem." She is planning on getting married at Disney so there's another wedding! Hopefully she will get married during the summer or a vacation so I don't have to take more time off!

With all these weddings coming up, I feel like my closet will soon look like this (with all the other dresses from weddings I have been in)

Maybe sometime this week I can finally sit down and do my Stitch Fix reviews for fixes 3 & 4 and spring break pictures. Because you know....summer will be here before we know it! 8 weeks from Thursday is the last day of school. And as excited as I am, I also have a TON to do before than!

Friday, April 10, 2015

{Friday Favorites}

Well, it's Friday. And the reality is sinking in that I go back to school on Monday. :(
It's okay...only like 11ish weeks until the last week of school. PTL! Not that I am counting or anything...

I am linking up with Andrea, Narci and Erika for this round of Friday Favorites! 


Lately, I feel like everyone I know and their mother is getting engaged. And I'm all single over here (but that is okay!). My best friend, April, called me last weekend to tell me on Friday, she got engaged! Her fiance Tim and her live in Florida so they go to Disney regularly. It is only fitting that he asked her in front of Cinderella's castle! I am so thrilled for her! Living in Florida and working with people at the newspaper who are old enough to be your parents has been kind of hard on her. They haven't set a date yet but are hoping to get married at Disney!!!!

Aren't they just the cutest?

Spring break has been truly relaxing. Yeah, I worked some (and still have 4 more shifts before I go back to school) but I got to see my friends Cheryl & Georgia who I worked with at my old school. And I went to the city with my friend on Wednesday. And I cleaned out my closet!! I have 5 bags of stuff to donate yet I still somehow don't have enough space. Oh well. Dreaming big for a walk in closet when I move out!

As I cleaned out my closet, I noticed about 95% of my outfits for work or just in general come from The Loft. What can I say? Their clothes are stylish, cute, wear well and best of all...FIT ME!! I recently was at the outlets and got 4 pairs of colored capris dress pants for work when they were all 40% off! In fact, I think I shop there too much. They keep sending me "Here's $25 off...we miss you!" emails. I recently ordered this top after seeing it on a blog. I am trying to incorporate more versatile tops that can be dressed up for work or just casually. 

It's this sweet lady's birthday next week..aka my mom! Can't wait to celebrate :)

My next Stitch Fix should be arriving in a few days! HOLLA! Can't wait to see what they send me. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Defeated? Yup, but I'll still teach!

Sometimes I feel that teachers are always being attacked for various reasons. Most people think that it's a 9-3 job and we skip out of the building (well, I do when it's a long weekend/vacation). Or because we have 2-3 months off in the summer. Or because of the snow days we get with our jobs. 

But lately, it has been a rough time for teachers in New York. And honestly, it doesn't look like the sun will be shining brighter any time soon.

Ever since we made the shift to the Common Core curriculum, there have been nothing disagreement as to whether or not it is the right thing for students. Essentially, they want to ensure that all students are graduating high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career and life, regardless of where they live. People say its because standards are not the same from state to state (well hello, neither is curriculum at times) and that students progress has fluctuated. 

Being that my content (Spanish/French) does not really get affected by the common core, I have mixed feelings about it. However, some of the things they are having students do can be beneficial (teaching text based evidence citing early on, etc). I do see some of the math teachers struggling to come up with lessons because they have to go from scratch. 

NY state tests begin next week (what a nice welcome back from break!) and I know many kids are going to opt out of taking them. It doesn't count towards their grade...yet the teachers are rated on it to see whether or not they are highly effective, effective, or developing. 

The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, had a new plan that was voted on last week. And the teachers of New York state are furious. What does he want to do? Well, first off can I say it's the fourth time in FIVE YEARS the teacher evaluation system has been changed?! They want to have independent evaluators come and observe you as opposed to your supervisor. Districts could "swap" principals for evaluations. So someone who has no idea about my kids, my teaching style, and my curriculum is going to tell me if I am an effective teacher or not? Not cool. Our teaching performance will be tied to student test scores (those state assessments) that are aligned to common core standards. Here's the kicker...they want scores to be tied to you on tests/curriculum you don't teach to kids you may not have. HOW ON EARTH IS THAT FAIR?

And if you are "ineffective" for three years, you can be terminated. The more I read, the more I am seeing that if you are "ineffective" for two years, you can be removed in as little as 90 days. SCARY. Again, all going back to test scores. 

He also wants to change tenure from three years to four years. You have to be rated effective for three of those years This is I am scared about because my position this year is part time and I may be full time next year. It is in effect for those hired after July 1, 2015 (which I was not) but since I would be full time (hopefully!) next year, this could apply to be. All I can say is this.will.blow.big.time.

Teachers cannot also be evaluated based on actual teaching artifacts or student work unless they are assessed by a state approved system.

I cannot say this enough, what the future of education holds is unstable, scary and makes you feel defeated if you're teaching in NY! This article explains a lot how teachers feel. I am a teacher. My brother & SIL are teachers. My cousin & his wife are music teachers. My Aunt Elaine is a kindergarten teacher. I have a handful of friends who are teachers. You used to be able to say your job as a teacher was safe (unless you pulled a Mary Kay Letourneau with a student) and now its not. 

Honestly, I don't know what the future holds. I love what I do. Yes, some days I am about to lose my marbles because I have to repeat myself 23528235369453463 times as to what page we are on in the packet or what the homework is. I may think a lesson is great and it flops. Sometimes I even feel like I have no idea what I am doing. But then you get the kids that go "I actually could understand French when I heard it" and the ones that ask "Are we playing Simon Dice with the new vocabulary?!" And it makes it worth all the while. 

And to end this on maybe a brighter note, here are some of my favorite teacher memes/funny ecards:

Friday, April 3, 2015

{Friday Favorites}

Well since I am on Spring Break this week and don't have much to do (except you know, study for that wicked French CST or clean my room or lesson plan),  I thought I would take a break from the mini panic attack I was having while doing  my taxes and participate in a new, fun link up!

Link up with Erika, Narci and Andrea for this fun link up.

Tomorrow is this sweet girl's 6th birthday!
(Her preschool graduation June 2014)

It's hard to believe my niece Emma Grace is going to be 6! She was born when I was a senior in college. She is so full of life and sass. I love that kid! (My SIL tells me I may be Emma's favorite person ever because she gets so excited when she sees me....let's see if that is the reaction when we go to Disney in July).

#2 - My new earrings from Nordstroms! I have recently fallen in love with reading a blog called Pinterest Told Me To by the whitty Sheaffer and let's just say, it is a daily "Did I read it yet?!" She gives you links to so many deals and let's you know about stuff. She kept posting about these earrings and I ordered all three. Oops. Got them yesterday and can't wait to wear them today!

#3 - Being on vacation. Y'all, I know people say that teachers are ALWAYS off but this has been the longest SIX WEEKS. Plus, as soon as we go back to school, we have the New York state testing. It is much needed. This school year is flying by in some aspects and dragging in others. I have so much stuff I need to do personally that I was super excited when my principal waved us out the door 15 minutes early from our duty on Wednesday. This was totally me:

#4 - THE SNOW HAS FINALLY STOPPED!! My major goal is to switch out my wardrobe for the spring stuff. I also can't stop shopping. I picked up these cute dresses at Target yesterday. 

Also got it in black.

#5 - My best friend from college, Stephanie, lives in Georgia. She got engaged at the end of February to David, who she actually met online (I love that he says his "harassing" worked to get her to go out with him). They're getting married in Miami because all his family lives there. On Sunday, she called to ask me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. I feel so honored I am the only college friend she asked!! I cannot wait to stand up there as she gets married!

Time to go straighten out the fiasco with health insurance and my taxes. Hopefully I don't have ANY of these problems next year!!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Life Lately

When it comes to blogging, I have fallen way behind. I am just super swamped lately at school. Trying to plan ahead has been my BIGGEST struggle as a first year teacher. Like, ensue the panic attack I had at the copy machine today when I realized my next packet for my 7th graders might not be ready until Wednesday the 15th...and we go back to school from break the 13th. Here is to hoping if I magically send it in early next week the copy center gods will get it to me before than!

Things have been crazy. Last week I had a meeting with human resources regarding my certification. Essentially, she told me she wants me to take the French CST (part of the New York State teaching certification exams to get your license)....this month...AKA April 25th. Because when they hired me I had planned on getting certified in French (it was my minor in college and I have 16 credits in it).  I nearly choked because the Spanish one was super hard and took me three times to pass (because 6th graders care about analyzing poetry in Spanish). They want me to possibly teach French 7 & 8 next year and I would have to be on the pathway to certification in order for it to happen. She was talking about some loop holes. Basically, she told me to take the test. The next day, two of my department colleagues (the other French teacher and one Spanish teacher) were called into her office because they're both ELL (English Language Learner) certified and there is a need for more of them in schools. As they're trying to figure out next year's schedule, I guess they're trying to double dip within the district as opposed to having to hire another body. So I am basically going to have an inner panic attack until I know exactly what I am teaching next year.

At least I know I am teaching next year since we have a no cuts (no programs, no staff!) budget proposed so jobs are safe. Wahoo! My sweet little Corolla (also known as Cora) is driven 60 miles to work round trip a week. After it took me 2.5 hours to get home in a snow storm, I wanted a truck. I am looking to buying a new car this summer. Probably a Honda CRV. I can't wait to car shop!

I am also just filing my taxes now. Yeah....13 days before the deadline. Why? I lost the W2 from the school I worked at last year. Usually when all my tax stuff comes in the mail, I put it all together. Last year I had the fiasco when I owed $1500 (yeah that sucked!). So I was up until 1:30am Sunday morning looking for it. Then unwillingly my body woke up at 7 so I continued to look for it. I couldn't find it. I called the business office Monday morning and asked them to mail me a new one. Lesson learned...KEEP YOUR TAX CRAP TOGETHER AND FILE ASAP! NOT 13 DAYS BEFORE THE DEADLINE!

And as I am filing, I get to the health insurance section. I had insurance through the NY Health care market place May 1-August 1 last year. My insurance from school kicked in September 1st. You need some form to file for the taxes. The form apparently doesn't apply to me because you had to have Bronze, Silver, Gold or platinum....and I had catastrophic. UGH. So even though I have had insurance, I incur a $259 penalty. FML. I am having someone do my taxes next year.

I'm off to go have a hissyfit....not really, but I am just ticked since I owed $1500 last year, looks like I owe $750 to the state and I'll only get $250 back from the feds. LOVELY. #ihatetaxessomuch