Tuesday, January 26, 2010


So, I have officially been overtaken by school. Seriously this new job is way more work then college ever was! I mean come on, there is still homework!

Well now that that is out of my system, I guess I can quit complaining and start talking like a normal person. I can honestly say that I didn't think that starting out teaching would be this in depth, strenuous, or as overtaking as it has become. I can honestly say I have not cleaned, cooked, or gone to town since the new job has started. In my defense I have not been home on a weekend since Christmas, so that is why it is not getting done at all. We have been on the go, and it doesn't appear to be slowing down any time soon.

My life now revolves around grading, entering grades, testing, parent notes, filing, conferences, cleaning, talking, and everything else in between. I come home nightly with things I can and should do to stay on top of it all. I feel bad because I haven't really done anything, especially at home. In my defense, I have been sick 2 out of the three weeks I have been working too. Nothing serious, just major bad cold and congestion type things. As of right now I have been doing nothing but laying on the couch for the past day and a half trying to get myself better so I can hit the ground running on Monday. I left my classroom a mess, I haven't even looked at the papers I have to grade, nor have I entered any test scores or made lesson plans. Needless to say I have a lot I must do tomorrow, I just hope I feel better.

I know this might sound like I am complaining. I am not trying to, I just am wanting to let any of my college education friends know that the profession you will one day enter is not easy, it is strenuous, consuming, high stress, and. . . completely worth it all. I wouldn't and couldn't do anything else, I know this is my calling, for life! The kids that come through my room every day and each week make it worth it. I am learning more about things I had once forgotten, what my students can do, and what I am capable of. All in all, its be a crazy ride, but fun to be on.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First Day, First Week, First Grade. . . Lots of Firsts

Well as you can tell there have been a lot of firsts happening in my life as of lately. Believe me when I say this is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life. There are some days that I think, why would anyone in their right mind want to work such long hours, do so much work outside of the classroom (grading papers, etc.), and be sssooo exhausted by the end of the day for such little pay? It doesn't make much sense, and to tell you the truth I come home more tired and worried than I have ever been, but I can't help but love it. I know there is nothing else I would rather do. I am working on just keeping my head above water, staying one step ahead of where I need to be, and I think it is going ok. I know I can teach better than this, but right now I am giving it my all. The luxury I don't have is time, well time and energy really. I'm pretty sure I could easily spend a whole day (as in 24 hours) and still not get everything done and ready completely.

Luckily I have so much help surrounding me it is unreal. My mentor teacher is the bomb and helps me ssooo very much, whether it is making copies, helping me write lesson plans for subs, highlighting books, whatever she sees that she can do to help me! That is such a huge blessing. Even if it means she stays late (and she lives all the way in Dangerfield) she does it. I didn't know the amount of paper work I would have to do (even for just running off papers) until I really got into it. That is one of the many things you don't learn about even in student teaching!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Officially Official

As of right now you are currently reading the blog of the newest first grade teacher at Harleton Elementary. I know, crazy as it is, I, Kristen Jones Clifton, am now employed! I am ssooo excited! This is something I have worked four long hard years to accomplish, I just never thought it would really happen, especially in the time frame that it happened in. It just goes to show the greatness of God, and testify to how much His plan truly is the best.

I was looking forward to student teaching last semester, but really didn't want to go below the 2nd grade level. But due to complications I had to and got put in 1st grade. I ended up loving it and knew that was where God wanted me to be. I also witnessed the sudden influx of students that seem to just bombard the first grade. Needless to say one thing lead to another and they needed another teacher. So after an interview and a few legalities I was hired on to be a 4th first grade teacher. They took the classes that were all too big and split them until now everyone has 17 students.

I had a week to prepare my room and get everything in order. However, it all got done. I had many resources from my mom, all things I would need for a room. In fact by the end of that week I had told her it looked as if I had been there for years because the room was so full. I still need a few small items, but for the most part I am good. Speaking of my mom, I could not have done it without her. She has been so faithful to come up and help me do whatever I need, to give support, advice, and to show me how to set up all the stuff she actually had in her own classroom. I couldn't have gotten through this without her or the other first grade teachers.

On Friday of this past week while all the kids were out at P.E. me and the rest of the teachers moved the desks of the kids who were assigned to my room into the classroom so that when they came back from P.E. they would start in their new class (for the last 40 mins of the day). So they all come back and the show was on. I was sssssoooo nervous! I mean this is my class, I'm responsible for them and what they learn! Anyway, so the afternoon went off pretty smoothly, with only an incident involving bathroom issues to which Mom and the 1st grade teachers laughed and said "Welcome to the world of teaching!" Honestly, I just got to talk to the kids, tell them how excited I was about having them in my room. I think I read them a book as well, and then it was time to go and for me to prepare for Monday, when the real work would begin.a

Monday came bright and early (with me feeling a bit under the weather, which actually started on Sunday) and I headed off to work. Once again I was nervous, but confident in my education and what I had learned. So off I went and the morning went sssooo good!! I mean seriously I couldn't have asked for a better morning. We all got in there and got to going. I had them make their own set of classroom rules, so we read a book and made those out. We did our phonics lesson and our reading lesson and then headed off to lunch. Well this was to be short lived because when we came back I started in on the worst possible math lesson you could possibly start on, changing pennies into dimes and counting by tens. Now why this doesn't sound like a hard concept to grasp, because by the time we are adults it is now second nature. However, you had to learn it at some point and this just happened to be the day.

What made this particularly hard is that most of the students were having trouble distinguishing between a dime and a penny, much less the fact that 10 pennies equals 1 dime! So this of course made the math lesson and worksheet run long, which made the science lesson on liquids and what makes it a liquid (like the fact it takes the shape of the container it's in, yet another hard abstract concept) run long, which made us late for P.E., which in turn made me late for a meeting I had with a parent of one of my new kids, which made for a very very hectic afternoon. Not to mention all the paperwork that comes with the new kids, getting the papers graded and handed back to the appropriate teachers, so as you can assume I was exhausted and completely overwhelmed by the end of the day. I went home and fell into the arms of my very understanding husband and just bawled. I expected to this, have for years, since I started the education program, but I didn't expect to cry as hard as I did! The day, the kids, the job, it all just hit me at once, and I guess I felt kind of trapped in a way. After a good cry, a warm shower, and great phone call to my very understanding and helpful mother I got geared up for day two.

Day two was much better and it gets better each day, as I get to know the kids and they get to know me. I think now they are testing their limits to find out what they are and see just how far they can go. To any ETBU friends and education students who read this know that no matter how hard you and ETBU try there is nothing that can prepare you for that first day! There are things that ETBU doesn't tell (and probably can't tell you because it wouldn't be politically correct) you, things you just find out on your own, and expect for it to be overwhelming and know it is ok!!! One thing is for sure, classroom management is one class that is crucial and you do not need to slack on! Take it all in and put it into practice, because that will save your tooshie! Positive reinforcement is your best friend!

All right well I guess that is enough for tonight, I'm sure there will be other stories to tell you, just not now, because I have to go to bed! Going to be an early day tomorrow!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Big Things Are Coming

Hey! So I know I haven't been the best blogger in the entire world, and I promise I have a reason, I just can't tell you right now. I promise though after Tuesday, it will all make sense and you can all have a big "Ahh Haa" moment! Until then, I can just let you know I am very excited about what is coming up. Excited, nervous, scared, anxious, all of it.

As for the holidays, we had a great holiday! I love Christmas, but for some reason it was really hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit this year. Usually I am bubbling with excitement all month and definitely 2 weeks before hand, at least! This year, it just wasn't happening and it made me really sad. Hope next year will be better in that regard.

Needless to say I had a great Christmas. I got a new outfit, an FM tuner for my car so I can play my iPod, shoes, teacher stuff, money, camping stuff, 5 (yes 5) different pea coats, and last but not least, a weekend get away to Hot Springs (complete with massage) with my two besties! That was Christmas and graduation from my honey! He is sssooo good to me!

There is so much to blog about, but nothing I can talk about until later. Until then, I'll just leave you hanging in suspense!!