Wednesday, August 28, 2013

So many new names and faces!

This is the first full week of school (with students). I am still feeling handcuffed to my computer! We are finally finished with schedule changes. I actually finished them last Friday with the exception of a few stragglers. Today, there was one class with more students than desks and no room for more desks. It was time to move some kiddos. I went through the entire Freshman class. I was looking for a student who didn't have Spanish 1 so I could just put classes in a different order. I found three girls. I didn't have to completely rearrange their schedule. I only had to move them from Algebra II to Geomentry and put the other class where the math class was. Easy, easy, easy. The three girls had a great attitude about it, which I was very thankful for and told them so many times. I was able to get some transcripts corrected that contained errors from switching from one student information system on the computer to another and things not rolling over like they should. Now all that is left to do regarding schedules and transcripts is obtaining state course numbers for career tech classes and subject credits for things that might be contained within the programs (such as a Science credit being in the Health Careers program). I won't be able to get this accomplished until next Tuesday as the career tech person will be out until that time. I was able to visit with some students here and there throughout the week thus far, just by working with schedules. The office aides are getting used to me (learning my personality), as I am getting used to them also. I started surveying students for Career Cafe. For 9th through 12th grades I just passed around a class list where students wrote what they wanted to do. If they didn't know, I had them write that information on the list and told them I'd call them in next week (maybe this week) to do an interest inventory so we could get a better idea of what they liked or what they were good at. The 7th and 8th grade I feel like we should go ahead and use the website since they are young and typically have no idea (though many of them know what they are good at). I hoping to be able to host my first cafe the week after next. I had a six foot table brought in to my office. It's folded up against the wall and I plan on just setting it up for the cafe each week. I'm so glad I took the time to clean up and clear out my new office so that there is now enough room to host this in my office. It just makes things easier on everyone! I'm posting pictures of what I've done on the walls. I'm still looking for a hutch to go on the red desk so that wall is blank. There are things that show my personality, but it is sort of office-y. I don't really have groups at this level (I would go to a classroom or just use my table planned for cafe) and there are a couple of chairs in front of my desk for students to sit. The first picture is a file cabinet given to me about 11 years ago. We had it sand blasted and painted a cream. The person didn't do a very good job, it was multiple shades of cream and it was peeling off in places. It's been in storage for three years (I didn't use it in my previous counseling office). There was no place to put college information or military information in my new office (a previous office remodel lowered the ceilings and the shelf no longer fit in the office). So my husband painted it black and I think it looks better than ever! The middle picture is just a collage of things I've bought or made to decorate and show a little bit of my personality. The bottom picture is the same thing on a different wall, something I've made, the corner of my red desk I painte and brought in, my fridge and on the adjoining wall, my certificate and diplomas.

Tomorrow is Thursday. I'm going for a pedicure with my wonderful daughter after school. Friday evening we are leaving for Canton, TX. We're spending our Labor Day weekend there, attending the Trade Days. Since our new/first grandbaby was born this past summer we didn't take a vacation. I am so looking forward to the long weekend and a little get away!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wow! What a crazy, busy time it has been the last week! After enrollment we worked very hard to get students' schedules in the computer so they'd be ready for open house on Monday, Aug. 19th. There were so many issues with the computer program: students who didn't show up in our system, schedules that printed out wrong, students with blank schedules, students who had left had a schedule, middle school students showing up in the high school site and vice versa, students with empty hours in their schedule who needed to go to a specific class but, while trying to enter them in that specific class they were already listed on the roster! We worked and worked after open house to correct the problems. It was 12:30 a.m. before I went to bed last night (this morning). Today was the first day of classes for students. I got to school at about 7:25 and the first thing I did was print new schedules out for everyone. We told students if they had class changes they needed to make to put their name on a list and we'd get to them starting tomorrow (Thursday) with seniors and working our way down to seventh grade. There are three complete pages of student class changes! Of course, just because they put a request on the list doesn't mean they're automatically going to get it. However, we will do our best. Then as the day went along one of the English teachers came by and informed us she had seven students in one class and 28 in another (the same English course). There were probably about three classes like this. The problem is that there are no other classes for students to go to when they are behind on required courses and those take priority, so there are larger classes, bummer. We did manage to correct a middle school class problem because a previous teacher happened to come to school today. We were needing to look at last year's seventh grade test scores to determine who could go in to eighth grade honors mathematics. Our state had major issues with testing last year and we still don't have final scores! High school and middle school classes sometimes depend on these test results (remediation classes), graduating students sometimes depend on these results if they have failed tests, so it has been a mess. Since that teacher happened to visit someone was able to get information pertaining to those students from her because she taught them. Based on what she told us, we switched the students. Another two classes share seventh grade for a semester only. At semester's end, they switch teachers. I was brought a list of students wanting to take one of the specific semester classes first and the other in the spring. This helped a great deal. Without that list it would just be a guessing game. Another teacher who teaches business classes is willing to take come kids and change her class so that it is a dual class (course I and II at the same time). That way she can include more students in her class, reducing the large number of students in the English class. My days are going to be like this for a while. Tomorrow I will be looking at class numbers and switching students. After that I will start calling in students one at a time to make schedule changes. I'm not sure when I'll get to the elementary. I still plan on doing my welcome back bulletin board (a little late). Hopefully by the end of the week.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday, again! Today was a very busy day. The principal took the schedules pre-enrollment forms for grades seven through ten home with him when he left last Thursday. I was only able to work on juniors and seniors last Friday. This was perfect because that took all day! The principal worked on the seventh-tenth grade student forms and master schedule until about 3 a.m. this morning. Today I completed the seventh grade student forms and about half of the eighth grade. Wow! What a busy day. Those eighth grade forms will have to be completed tomorrow. I have met many people over the last week and reaquainted myself with others. It has been nothing but joy. I met the cafeteria ladies today. The cafeteria staff are always people to get to know and stay in contact with. I never know when I might need something for Career Cafe that I forgot at home. I've been debating the way I run Career Cafe. In the past I would host one a week, maybe every other week. Since we have an early and a late lunch, I've been debating, if it works out with the students, hosting two in one day. One for the early lunchers, one for the late lunchers. The difference in the lunches is that most middle/junior high students are on early lunch and most high school students are on late lunch. Hosting two in one day might be a bit of a challenge, but, I could then skip a week. I'll just have to see how that plays out with what the kids want to do regarding a career.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Time to make the donuts

Do any of you remember the Dunkin Donuts commercial from many years ago that showed a worker rising very early, middle of the night actually, to go to work and make donut? He'd then get finished and crawl into bed only to be awakened by the alarm again, much too early (for his liking) to make them again. It showed him doing this over and over, eventually meeting himself coming and going. While I'm not at the point of meeting myself coming and going I love that commercial and heading back to work always reminds me of that phrase from it, "Time to make the donuts." Today was very interesting! I learned so much about my new school already! My official report date isn't until Wednesday, August 7th, but today and tomorrow are enrollment days. I got here just before 8 a.m. thinking I would have time to make a cup of coffee and load things in to my office that I'd put together over the weekend. Senior enrollment started at 8 and I know how seniors are, not in any hurry! When I got to school I went straight to my office with a load, dropped it inside the door and went to my car for the rest. After I put my second load down I stepped back into the main office and students had followed me in to the building! There were so many early birds I was impressed (really)! The secretary, who has only been with the district one year, and I hadn't met before this morning, To my surprise she is someone from high school! I hadn't seen her in over 25 years and had long ago forgotten her married name. I was thrilled to see her and know that I would be working so close with her! There are also several parents I went to school with whose kids or grandkids attend this school. It was like a small family reunion! If you've read previous posts you know I've been working on my office a lot! I took a picture. I forgot to take a before shot, so it's an "in progress" picture.
If I were to turn around from were I took the picture I would be in the main office of the building. The black metal cart with the bar handle is now out, that is a cart full of ipads. Also the table is gone. I moved two six foot tables and the square one in the picture out. The elementary office won't be available for quite some time, into September. School starts Aug. 21st which is a little late for this area. I thought I'd wait until the 2nd full week of classes to start working in the elementary. I have a lot of curriculum I've acquired and am very anxious to meet with those students. The superintendent just told me my priority was the high school building and it might be late September before I'd be getting to the elementary building. I also met a teacher that is working on her master's in counseling and I think the superintendent may have her in mind eventually for a 1/2 time counseling position over there. Based on that information I think my time (due to the workload in the high school) in the elementary will be limited to just a couple of years until she is finished. I will probably not be purchasing any more elementary materials. I don't want to purchase something tha will only be used a year or two. At this point I'm not sure if I'd rather serve the elementary or the high school. I also got to meet one teacher I'll be working with. She is the FACS teacher and has a senior student. I was glad to meet her, the FACS classroom is decorated so cute (already) and I'll probably have to be going in and out of her room some for career cafe supplies. I got several things hung on my walls but, still have other things to put up and I think in addition to the hutch I'll be purchasing soon, I'm also in the market for a bookshelf.