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Mind Dump

May 16, 2010

I have had such a busy week, that I don’t really know where to start.  I had every intention of writing a follow up Mother’s Day post, and then on Monday things exploded and my week dragged me by the ankle at such a fast pace that I am lucky that I could keep up with everything.

So, let me start by saying my kids are awesome.  This week, especially, they have been precious.  They have made me laugh countless times beginning on Sunday with their sweet cards.  It is so interesting  to get a glimpse into how I look to them.  Sarah had the most thoughtful words to say to me, and Katie and Nicholas were just plain funny.  Who knew that my favorite food was broccoli?  They both (independently) wrote that for the “My mom’s favorite food is…” blank on their cards.  This tells me that we must have broccoli a lot, and I must try to sell it a bit too hard.  I do love broccoli, but FAVORITE FOOD?  No.  Maybe favorite veggie, but veggies are not on top in my world.  Maybe they should be… but junk food still wins out.

On Monday, we had no school.  Teacher’s Workshop.  We had play dates at our house.  Katie and Nicholas had another pair of twins come over to play, and Sarah had a friend from school come over too.  Sarah’s friend’s mom is a Girl Scout leader with me, so we are good friends.  She came in and told me about an ominous letter that was in Sarah’s backpack, which I had not yet checked.  This letter informed parents of second graders that the class size for third grade (next year) was going to be 32 student per class.  (Right now they have 21 students per second grade.)  The largest class size in a K-5 elementary school (excluding our school) in our district is  26 students.  Now, I know there are many districts, even in the Twin Cities, that have much larger class sizes.  However, in our district we have had an initiative to keep class sizes low.  That is one of the reasons we chose to live where we live.

To muddy the waters even further, our school is the only school in the district that has the ability to control enrollment.  Our school is a community school, and anyone in our city can fill out an application and be entered into a lottery to attend our school.  The problem is, that our principal let in too many Kindergartners this year.  The limit is to draw between 70-75 Kindergartners per year.  Last year, our principal heard some off-handed comment about how he better fill his kindergarten sections or he would lose staffing, so he drew 84 kindergartners for this year.  Now he has to put four full classes of Kindergarten into three first grades.  This puts first grade class sizes at 28 for next year.  We all agree, that is too big for first grade.

We need another full-time teacher.  Our principal doesn’t want to ask the district for another teacher because he blew his own enrollment, and he knows he would get into trouble.  So, what he did was, he took a teacher from 5th grade and put that teacher in 1st grade.  Then, he took a 3rd grade teacher and split that position into two half-time positions to support both 3rd and 5th grade in reading and math.  Hence, the large class sizes.  (Fifth grade will have 34 students per class.)

What did I do?  Well.  I emailed the entire second grade, and told them that they better go to the PTSA meeting on Tuesday night.  So, many, many parents showed up and we had a three-hour long meeting about class size.  Somehow we left and the only thing we had convinced the principal of is that we need a half time teacher so third grade will have three sections again.  I was not happy with that, but fifth grade parents seemed like they were okay with that by the end of the meeting.  Only they really weren’t okay at all.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday on the phone with angry parents and got elected into a “core” group who will lead the quest for a full-time teacher.  I felt like I was going to vomit.  I hate confrontation and had to look in the mirror and tell myself that I MUST take a stand now, or it will become a precedence for future years, and I still have five years left in this school.  Since I have some experience dealing with principals and districts I have a map in my head which I want to follow.  Other parents are ready to storm the school board.  I spent my time harnessing that energy and telling people to slow down.  One rung on the ladder at a time.  I was reminded of how it feels to work in an elementary school.  I am so glad I don’t have to next year.

All of this was taking place during the week from Hell schedule-wise.  Tuesday, we had dance pictures and softball pictures before I had to be at the PTSA meeting, and Wednesday I had to be at school because my girl scouts were performing in the school variety show and it was dress rehearsal.  I had to fend off some parents to get to the dress rehearsal on time, and then I got stuck at school in an informal meeting until school ended.  I met my kids going to the bus, and drove them home because we had dance pictures (different kid) Sarah had to go late to a birthday party and Katie had a softball game.  Thursday was the variety show, my mom came to watch.  I was cornered again and had to respectfully cut off this parent to go gather my girls.  The girls did fantastic!  After their performance, I had plans with my mom to hang out, and go to lunch.  I ignored all emails and phone calls for that afternoon, but I knew that it would be waiting for me.  Thursday night, back to school for Kindergarten Share Night, and back to fielding questions from parents.  When I got home, I found out that I would be meeting with the principal the next day at noon.

It went really well.  The district is involved and I may be meeting with the assistant superintendent as early as tomorrow.  (However, see above on the hating of confrontation and the need to vomit.)  I spent Friday at school for a volunteer appreciation breakfast, shopping for puff paint for our girl scout day camp, Pixie Valley, and getting ready for the principal’s office, and then meeting with my core group until I had to leave to get home to meet the bus.

On Friday night, I was making dinner, and Jeff had come home early to mow the lawn.  He filled up the lawn mower’s gas tank and couldn’t find the cap for the mower’s tank.  He called me out to help him look.  Nicholas was helping too.  I got up on the bumper of his truck that is parked in our garage to have a bird’s-eye view.  Nicholas did the same.  I didn’t see it, so I got down and started looking under things.  When I turned around, I saw Nicholas laying on the concrete floor holding his head.  I rushed over to him and noticed his pant leg was stuck on the trailer hitch.  I untangled his pant leg and tried to stand him up, but his legs were like jelly.  He said he “lost control” and that he had to go to the bathroom.  He was crying hard now.  I carried him into the bathroom and Jeff found a large lump on the side of his head.  We helped him to the couch and gave him and ice pack.  We let him rest and I sat with him for a while.  Needless to say, my cheese dip scorched.  After we ate dinner, he was acting like he had a headache, but pretty normal.  We asked him what he hit his head on.  Was it the bumper?  Or the floor of the garage?  He said, “I closed my eyes, so I don’t remember.”  That is when we considered the fact that he could have lost consciousness.  That is when I panicked.  So, I called the on-call doctor and, of course, was told to bring him to the ER.  By now he was running around outside. Literally.  But, we packed up and headed to the hospital.  At the last moment I decided to bring him to Urgent care, because they would send us to the ER if we needed to go there, but it would be a much shorter wait at Urgent care.  Good call!  He is fine, but this evening was spent differently than I had planned.

I was supposed to use that time after dinner preparing for Pixie Valley.  I was on the planning committee and I had to be at the park at 8:00 AM the next day.  I had not done anything to prepare, because, remember?  I am the worlds BEST procrastinator.  I was up until 2:00 AM writing up a lesson plan for the station I was in charge of, picking (and downloading) songs for the station and burning a CD, puff painting names on hats that I purchased for the troop, making sure I had all of the permission slips, health forms and junk gathered for Sarah, and printing and trimming the certificates for the try-it patch that the girls earn for participating in my station.

Yesterday was the big day, and it couldn’t have gone better.  The sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze, and it was 70 degrees.  We were outside all day, and the girls had a blast.  So did I .  I was dreading a whole day with 17 second grade girls in a park full of other girls grades k-3.  I was proven wrong.  We all had so much fun.  I am tired today.  This week, we only have softball and baseball and no extra things except on Monday.  Monday is our last Girl Scout meeting.

Today, is Laundry Sunday.  We are in need of underwear.

  1. May 16, 2010 1:58 pm

    I think you beat me. I think I have collapsed, muddy and exhausted, just from reading this. I had such a BORING RELAXING weekend. Wish you could have had some of it with me!

    • May 22, 2010 12:32 pm

      ME TOO! A little bit of boring sounds GREAT. In fact a whole weekend of boring? Heaven.

  2. May 16, 2010 10:16 pm

    You are Superwoman. Seriously. It must be totally overwhelming and scary to have so many people depending on you to represent their wishes, but THEY have confidence in you! and so should you! You might want to skip around the house singing “I Have Confidence!” from The Sound of Music, just for good measure. That is major stuff! Keep us posted. This is very interesting – what do the parents expect, for the money to appear to support another teacher? I guess the principle was put in between a rock and a hard place. “More students! Less teachers! Make it happen!”

    I am SO glad that Nicholas is okay. So scary. Poor little guy!

    (P.S. And people wonder what SAHMs “do” everyday? I know that one day my days will evolve to this level of busy, and it makes me want to take a preemptive nap, immediately!)

    • May 22, 2010 12:34 pm

      Yes Sam, nap now and nap often! I am glad that Nicholas is okay too. It was scary for a bit there. I hate head injuries. You just never know.

  3. May 18, 2010 9:54 am

    Yikes! I would want to vomit too. Confrontation is about as fun for me as major abdominal surgery despite how often my husband tries to convince me that it’s a good thing, fosters communication, keeps bad feelings from storing up, etcetera, etcetera. I know things are tough financially for everyone in education, but then again, children are too important to dump in an overcrowded, chaotic environment every day. I hope you all can find a good solution (and that you won’t have to vomit after all).


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