Sunday, September 11, 2016

A month in the life...

So I'm still working on getting up to the weekly post schedule.  But for now, a month recap will have to do!

Back to school for teachers started on August 10th with the usual week or so of school and district staff development.  Our school/district is adopting more of a 'growth mindset' approach to all things (academic, social, emotional, etc) and I like the change.  This Monday at our faculty meeting we need to sign up for focus committees.  I'm thinking of signing up for the PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions & Support) Committee because I have a lot of a growth mindset related ideas about how to help our school move to the next PBIS level (and with some of the challenges we see with our students, that is important!).

Students went back to school on August 22nd.  That included our kiddos!  Little Sassafrass is now a Middle Schooler - 6th grade!  Lala is a sophomore and Juancho is a SENIOR!  What?  I have a senior in high school?  How did that happen?!?

Our kiddos are doing well in their first few weeks back to school...getting used to the routine of things.  Sassafrass experienced changing classes 7 times a day on her own (no more walking in lines) and handling a locker and locker combination!  She has also taken up the cello -- in 6th grade they focus on teaching all the how-to's of playing the cello and in 7th grade she will join the orchestra!

Sassafrass during our trip to Iowa this past summer.

Sassafrass loves our newest neighbor - puppy Thor!

Lala decided not to play tennis this year and has instead taken that extra elective to devote to photography.  She has always had an eye for photography and dabbled with it a bit when she attended the Escuela Bellas Artes in Puerto Rico.  For her birthday this year she got her first SLR -- a Canon Rebel and she took some fantastic photos during our road trip this summer.  She is also planning on taking her brother's senior pictures to add to her portfolio (and to save her parents a boatload of bucks!).  If you'd like to follow Laura's Photograpy hobby and budding business, like her Facebook page at Laura Fernanda Photography.

Shooting wildflowers along our road trip

Us girls at the Statue of Liberty

Juancho has had a tremendously successful start to the school year!  His summer work as a lifeguard for local neighborhood association pools was coming to a close at Labor Day but he knew he wanted (and needed) to work throughout the school year.  The local YMCA was hiring for lifeguards for their indoor & outdoor pools (year round work), so Juancho applied and easily got the job.  After being on the job just a week, his supervisors at the Y gave him the privilege to serve as the Head Lifeguard on Duty because they quickly saw his experience and leadership.  He's now served as Head Lifeguard on several occasions.  He is still swimming at the high school, though UIL regulations mean that he is not eligible to swim at any regional or state competition due to his age (19).  That's fine with him though and he will still swim at local meets and compete locally with the water polo team too later this year.  Some of Juancho's most exciting news includes his legal name change to John Robert earlier this summer -- something he has wanted for a few years.  When we adopted the children, the only thing that changed about their names was their last name changed to ours.  We felt that they were already changing SO MUCH about their lives, we weren't going to ask them to change their names too, to something we might've picked out.  But we always told them that if they want to change their first or middle name once they get closer to 18, we would support that.  Juancho has gone by "John" in school and amongst peers since he started school in 4th grade with us.  And he often shared a desire he had to carry on Robert's name as it is a family name that has been handed down through a couple generations now.  So in late July he went before the judge and it was made official!  He is now John Robert Dressel!  The other exciting thing for him is that he bought himself a car!  Originally some dear friends from Florida were going to drive their extra vehicle from Florida to here (via a stop in Atlanta) and then GIVE the car to Juancho.  Isn't that awesome?!  Unfortunately the car had other plans and the transmission completely went out while they were in Atlanta, leaving them stranded.  A few headaches and a rental car later, they arrived in TX and we spent a fun week together before they went back to FL (via plane!).  That meant Plan B for Juancho.  But thankfully he had saved money from his full time summer job and went car shopping with his Dad.  They found a great 2014 Ford Focus in perfect condition and right in his price range.  He bought it and now has some great wheels to get him to school, work, and out with friends (and running some errands for his Momma too!).  He also has his first budget since he now has car expenses (including the expensive teenage boy insurance) to take care of every month!

Working hard?  Or hardly working?

John Robert with his first car!
Finally my students are fantastic.  I'm in a new role this year at my same school from last year and I LOVE IT.  I'm the Bilingual Intervention Teacher and while my position is labeled intervention (which usually means smaller groups of students), the number of students that need that type of intervention in our school is high.  I have nearly 150 students between 6 classes, which means I have to be creative in how I deliver intervention level support.  My classroom is the former computer lab, so I have computers for every student and a couple of computer based intervention programs that students work through.  Daily in class the majority of class works on their computer based intervention while I work intensively with a "small" group of 7-10 children with similar needs in English Language Intervention.  The majority of my students are 5th graders with a small class of 6th grade students.  These grade levels are especially urgent for language acquisition intervention because once students hit 6th grade they are no longer eligible to take ANY state or school tests in Spanish.  Once students hit 7th grade there is no longer any bilingual support and ESL support is quite limited, especially in the urban school district I work in.  I am so thankful that this year is a breath of fresh air, I'm back in my 'sweet spot' and my students are not nearly as crazy as they were last year!

Students having a written discussion via a web app
Student responses to the question of what makes a good digital citizen.

Signing off for now, but there is still so much to tell you.  So look for posts in the next few weeks (I'm aiming for one per week) about how I've been able to lose 15 pounds since August 1st (via a vegan diet!), some upcoming DIY projects, my upcoming surgery (!), gardening using native plants, and new hiking club adventures!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! So much. I miss you! We need to keep up better, friend! Love reading about you and the kiddos!