Monday, August 31, 2015

First Assignment

August 31, 2015

Well, I'm in with two feet. I've turned in my first college paper in a very long time.  The requirement wasn't especially a long paper (and naturally, I went beyond the minimum; brevity has never been my strong suit), but there was a little bit of trepidation and intimidation and procrastination and "what-if-they-don't-like-what-I've-written?", even though ultimately I feel pretty good about what I wrote.  It was essentially a paper synthesizing information in four different articles about the teaching of literacy, something I am passionate about and about which I have something to say.  So, you know--I had buy-in.  But it did give me a minute's pause to remember that our students face trepidation and intimidation and procrastination and "what-if-they-don't-like-what-I've-written?" even (especially) when we ask them to write about something they are less than passionate about.  I think everyone who's been on the teaching side of the desk for awhile should get back in the students' desks every now and again.  It's a good reminder.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Quiet Sunday

August 30, 2015

Today was quiet--a little sleeping in, a little shopping around Fashion Fair and River Park for Doug and me before dinner at PF Chang's, and then homework time and grading papers for me in front of the VMA's tonight.  Sometimes it's good to take it easy.  I know that in just a few weeks I'll be drowning in papers and meetings and mom-taxi obligations and the never-ending housework that seems to multiply exponentially while we all sleep, but for now, I'll relish the calm before the storm.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Another Bit of Evidence That We're Off to a Good Start

August 29, 2015

I was running around this weekend, celebrating the end of the first week with a little retail therapy, when I ran into one of my new students.  (Side note: It NEVER fails that I run into a new student sometime during the first week outside of school, and I don't recognize them because you know, I just met 200 new folks and I haven't learned who they all are yet.  I always feel awkward when they come up to me and say, "Mrs. Lutjens! Hi! How are you?" and I'm thinking, "Have I seen you before? Were you in my class? Was your sister in my class? How is it that your face isn't ringing a bell?" and then I realize, "Oh, you must be in my class THIS year!")

Anyway, this lovely young lady shyly approached me and said, "I just wanted you to know that the book I checked out from your library--you know, that one by James Patterson?--I started reading it in class on Friday, and I can't stop reading it!  I don't like to read too much, but I do like mysteries, and this book makes me want to keep reading to find out what's going to happen."  Then, by the way, she introduced me to her mom, who told me how happy she was that her daughter loves her school and loves her classes and her teachers and is looking forward to a really good year.

That, my friends, is a win for the week.

Friday, August 28, 2015

First Week Down

August 28, 2015

The first week of the new school year is in the books, and here's what we know so far:

1.  My classes are big. Like, really big.  Like, I'm thankful for the class where I only have 34 students because it's super small compared to the ones where I have 42 kids.

2.  Even though my classes are big, I'm already liking the personalities I see in my kids.  I seriously love teaching seniors.

3.  All the time and money I've spent seeking out newer books for my classroom--worth it!  I had at least 30 kids check out books from my classroom library because something there appealed to them.

4.  Danielle is going to survive this year even though she and Megan have no classes together.  

5.  Danielle likes her teachers and they like her.  I mean, she IS a pretty likable kid.

6.  Nicholas is excited to get to take Japanese classes in college, just because.  I made him take Spanish in high school for practical reasons; he gets to take Japanese now because he wants to.

7.  Nicholas has so far impressed me with his willingness to get up and head to his classes not only on time, but early--even though my not-a-morning-person son took an 8 a.m. class.

8.  Taking all his A.P. classes enabled Nicholas to take some Engineering courses right off the bat as a freshman, which will definitely help distinguish high school from college.

9.  My own Fresno State classes are now online instead of face-to-face, due to low enrollment.  I was looking forward to an actually in-class experience, but this format actually gives me a little more flexibility in terms of time.

10.  I'm really liking my professor for my first Master's class.  I think this is going to be fun!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Checking Out the Classroom Library

August 27, 2015

A few comments overheard in class today during our Book Pass, where I introduce students to some of the books in our classroom library:
--"What are the odds? She happened to put the one book I've been wanting to read on MY desk!" (Sheer happy coincidence--I placed a random book on every desk.)
--"Oh my gosh...she has the book I wanted to finish. I lost mine before I finished it!"
--"Wait..this book on film-making counts for our independent reading? I'd actually READ that book!"
Not to mention at least 25 kids checked out books from me they found interesting after the Book Pass. Woo hoo--I'd say that was a positive experience!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Stealthy Birthday Wishes

August 26, 2015

Danielle's best friend Megan's birthday is tomorrow, so we went out on a mission late at night so that Danielle could decorate her window and leave her a little surprise on the door step.  I texted Megan's mom to ask her if it would be okay, because I had visions of Danielle not quite being able to carry out her middle of the night ninja mission and being loud enough for the Kroeker family to think someone was trying to break into the house!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

First Day of School, Part 2

August 25, 2015

Nicholas started his first day at Fresno State today with his Tuesday classes--a programming class and a communications class.  Tomorrow he gets to check out his Japanese class and his first engineering class.  Off to a good start!

I also started back at Fresno State--after an absence of 25 or so years.  Our class didn't have enough students to form a face-to-face class, so our class became an online one instead, where we meet via video chat once per week.  After an initial technical difficulty, we got things up and running for the first time tonight.  I'm really excited to start digging into the curriculum for my first class--Teaching Language Arts K-12.  Even though I've been teaching for 25 years, there's always ways to improve and strengthen the tools that we use to help our kids!

Monday, August 24, 2015

First Day of School, Year 2015

August 24, 2015

I've got only one more kiddo at school with me now, since Nicholas graduated last year.  This beautiful girl (and her bestie, Megan), are ready to take on Junior year in style!

It was my first day back to school as well, of course.  Cheers to beginning year 26 in the teaching profession--25th year at Buchanan High School!