Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Doors

Another thing on Dave's "finish" to-do list has been the bedroom and bathroom doors. Both doors have been installed and trim up and painted. Two of the four doors in the house have been finished.
Saving and reusing the old trim is extremely important to me and the character of the house, but a royal pain in the butt for Dave. For the door above (leading into the Master Bedroom), we lost some trim in the removal so Dave will need to make a custom piece to finish up the bottom of this trim. This is still on his finishing to-do list :)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hall Bath FINALLY Finished

Remember back to this post when I said introduced our new hall bathroom?! I ended that post with a disclaimer that there was a few things left to do...
I can now say they are finally done!!
In the picture above, you'll notice that there is trim around the window. Below, you'll notice that all the tiles are on the wall and below the closet. There is also trim around the closet!The door is also completely installed with trim!

Woo Hoo! Onto another project!

Remodel Update

Several people have asked me about the remodel process at home and hinted that they'd like to read more about it (oh, so nicely) on my blog. Questions like...what's new? how's it going? what's changing now? how come you're not posting anything?

For those of you who asked, I promise to get some more posts going for you...


There hasn't been a huge amount of progress in the last two because Dave is in his last quarter at ITT (woo, hoo, April 8th graduation for him!!). While this means he is almost done with school, it also means that he has a HUGE capstone project to get done. This Tuesday (March 2), he presents his project to a committee. Needless to say, he has been working non-stop on this and it has consumed most of his time.

He has been working on a little "finishing to-do" list, created to finish a lot of the little jobs around the house. He checks off one of two per week and they've been making a huge difference.

Some of the things (not really picture worthy, sorry):

  • Plaster holes repaired, textured, and repainted in guest bedroom (pink room)
  • Plaster holes repaired and repainted in kitchen after electrical issue (remember this?)
  • Trim painted Swiss Coffee in office, living room, guest bedroom, and hallway.

The picture worthy fixes will get their own posts :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Over the past five years of teaching, I have sat through several trainings (shocker, right?!) that last hours, days, and sometimes even a full week. Few have been great, some okay, and some have been torture.

This year, with a focus on educational leadership and administration, I've been focusing on the presentation styles and concepts presented, while trying to envision my future participation in future trainings (as the trainer/principal/leader/etc).

Why am I writing a blog about this? Because I've come to the conclusion that I could present, with the same (or more) effectiveness, each and every one of the "trainings" I've attended.

This is significant for a few reasons:
  • Education is poor in California, yet we still pay $1000 (or more) a day for "consultants" to conduct trainings that teachers could present to other teachers for less than $400 (we only make $36.50 an hour for extra projects, 7 hours of training, 2 hours for paid prep).
  • Teachers sit in so many trainings, yet with the "consultant" model there is no one that follows them back to their classrooms to check to make sure that it is used and follow-up questions can be offered.
  • As an administrator, I can help teachers learn effectively and save my school a lot of money.
  • I really, really enjoy applying/adapting strategies for different levels of students and content levels.
  • I should become one of these "consultants" and never worry about money again :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Universal Studios

On February 13th, our family headed to Universal Studios to celebrate our President's Weekend holiday!

Thanks to US' teacher appreciation week, Desiree, mom, and I got in for free! Our trip should have cost $414, but we only paid $103.50.

The studio tour was excellent, we even got to see the houses from Desperte Housewives!
We had a yummy lunch at Mel's Dinner
The day was beautiful and sunny--felt like spring in February!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


silence has taken over this blog as my life has taken over my time.

so sorry.

suprisingly enough, I really do have things to say.

the time to say them just hasn't happened it.

they're coming I promise.

but for now, I'm going to take my nasel-congested face to bed in prepare for another marathon day tomorrow.

and Saturday after I take my midterm and sit in Finance for another five hours, I should have some time for you.

soon, my friends, soon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Big Night

at Weight Watchers. Not only did I officially declare my GOAL and get this beauty... but, I was awarded the very first Hottie's Award. Donna, our esteemed leader, has started this award in our meeting (a model from her other meeting). She selected me to be the first hottie, next week I bestow the honors on the next winner, and so forth.

The award comes with this bag, the mini "You're Terrific!" cone, and the journal to add your own personal advice, receipes, or thoughts.
In her other meeting, they have been honoring each other with the Hottie Award for the past seven years! Now, I just have to figure out what I want to say in the first journal entry of our lovely book.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A letter to the weather

Dear Rain,

I am glad you're here to give us Southern Californians some change of scenery. You've done your job; actually, you've done your job so well that you're over doing it. Now you're causing other issues--like flooding Lincoln, parts of Magnolia, and the slow lane of the 91 Freeway. You're job is complete, you can move on now.

I'm just a So Cal girl. I know more about living without water, than living with you coming from the sky for seventeen days in one month. I don't really know how to dress for your presence in my daily life. My pants are too cold, my shoes are slippery, and my "rain" jacket isn't all that stylish. Reese, my dog, really hates you. She refuses to go outside for the sake of her dainty paws, which of course, means she doesn't use the bathroom correctly. She is tired of getting in trouble; for her sake, can you move on now?

My students don't know how to deal with you either. Yes, high school is a much better environment for rain than middle school, but they still haven't understood that sweatshirts don't protect them against you. Umbrellas are unheard of, not that they are too "uncool," but that the stores only carry a few and every single store is out of stock. My students come inside really quickly because you're visiting and want to "hang out" with me at lunch while you're here. This is fine... but I sort of liked the "me" time. Can you move on now?

Again, I am grateful for the fact that you've raised our water reserve levels and you've gleefully covered my surrounding mountains with snow. I'm sure that all the brush along the 15 is happy as a clam. My backyard of dirt has loved your visit; the mushrooms, three-leaf clovers, and other assorted greenlings have taken over the dirt. Despite my gratefulness, I'd kindly ask you to move on now.



Sunday, February 7, 2010


Just wanted to apologize for talking/blogging/whinning about school, teaching, administration, etc for the past few weeks.

Not much else is happening.

I'm boring and Reese sleeps all day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


In four months, I'll finish my MA in Educational Administration and have a Certificate of Eligibility for my Tier I Administrative Credential. With this degree and credential, I will have all the necessary requirements to apply for admin positions.

When teachers find out what I'm working on and my future plans, I usually get a look of disgust and depending on how blunt the person is I also get comments about "joining the dark side" and "wasting my teaching ability."

There is no short answer to tell these people about my real reasons and I always sort of feel defensive.

In class today, we had a principal guest speaker. Although he was speaking mainly about school budgets, he also presented him overview of being a principal. He made a few comments that struck a cord with me that I want to remember.
  • The title "Principal" came from the the title of "principal teacher." The principal teacher was a strong, passionate teacher at the school who was recognized by his/her peers as a leader with fellow teachers and students.
  • Administration is a calling; it is not for the weak, the one who wants to leave work at 4, or the one who is afraid to make hard (yet creative) decisions.
  • Administration is a people business and one that must be always concentrate on the kids and their needs.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Who would have thought...

that my SELA could create this in less than twenty minutes... T-chart graphic organizer (brainstorming completed too, but I forgot to take a picture of it before I erased it)
First part of our body paragraph with a topic sentence, star idea and two descriptive sentences (those of you who are trained on Step Up to Writing, you may notice the symbols are the same, but the colors are off, this is because I used the colors pre-Step-up and I didn't want to change the colors after my training).

The end of our body paragraph with another star idea, two more descriptive sentences and our conclusing sentence.

This is a HUGE accomplishment for this class! Not only are they finally understanding the idea of a paragraph (which we've been working on since day one of school), but they were able to take the complicated concept of writer's style and discuss it with academic vocabulary! This paragraph is as close to grade level as we've gotten all year long!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Elementary, Day Two

Immediate thoughts after my first FULL elementary day:
  • A first grader who I met the first day came up this morning and hugged my leg; surprisingly enough, it didn't bother me.
  • Working with teachers to improve instruction using researched-based strategies really is a passion for me; it makes me giddy like a little kid.
  • I'm exhausted, more exhausted that I am after a full day of teaching, working out, and cooking dinner.
  • This whole elementary school thing is different than secondary, but not completely foreign.
  • If I had to and I spent some time learning phonics, I think I might be able to be a semi-effective administator at this level.
  • Kids make the same stupid mistakes at elementary as they do at middle and high school, like tagging gang-related stuff on their papers. They get suspended in elementary, too.
  • Mr. Shaw (my Central VP) is a kick-butt disciplinarian and I am lucky that I learned from him--came in handy with that gang tagging kiddo.
  • I'm jealous that the teachers have over 7 hours of time each week to teach the same ELA standards that I have just over 4 to teach.

I've also reaffirmed my inital thought that the teachers deserve to be paid more!

18 hours done. 32 hours to go.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

data, data, data

Thursday all of the ELA teachers will be "pulled out" of class for two periods to spend time talking about our progress on our SMART goal for the year. During our last "pull out" day, we create the SMART goals (SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely).

Since then, we have talked about them precisely one time, today. To be honest, I haven't even thought about it since we "created" it.

Here is the ninth grade SMART goal for ELA: As measured on the CST, we will raise our percentage of proficient and advanced students from 47% to 54%. to skip my ramblings and see if my kiddos made it, skip to the very bottom

Why the random increase of 7% you ask?

Our noble, honorable directive from up above is to increase 15% of the non-proficient students to proficient or higher. When you do the math (funny math that confused a lot of people), it works out to be 7% overall. Meeting the 15% improvement would mean that not only would each school meet the requirements of NCLB, but the district would enter "Safe Harbor" under NCLB and no longer be considered program improvement. Grand goal. Important goal.

Realistic? I wish...

Why haven't I thought about this goal?

Why haven't we talked about it? Because while it is specific (can't get more specific than that) and measurable (can't argue with the CST), it does not seem achievable, is not realistic, and provides no room for timely review (if you didn't know, CSTs only come once a year).

Now, if I was a typical high school teacher, I would leave it at that. The above statement would be enough to "justify" my laziness, BUT the fact of the matter is that even though I do not find it achievable and realistic, it is still the goal. I can't change that. It is also my hope that we can create some type of timely (and accurate review).

Which brings me back to my original point (if you're still reading, thanks, I won't feel bad it you stop now or scroll straight down to the bottom)...

I sat down this afternoon and began looking at the data that would show me if my students are making the growth needed to come reasonably close to achieving our SMART goal.

Using DataDirector, our super cool online data report, I began pulling and adjusting reports to give me the info I wanted. I pulled CST data from my students' 8th grade year and their used the District Semester Assessment as comparison data.

I started getting excited about the data!

I know, can you believe it? During my four years at Central, data poured out of my ears and I wanted to scream when we were told that we were going to do yet another data analysis procedure, but today, today I was exciting.

Making nifty charts in Excel made the data easy to read, color coded charts made it evident what I was doing well and what I needed to improve on, comparing CST and semester results showed me that...

I am and I am not "on target" to meet my goal.

No, failure- My students were only 35% P/A on the CST, and 40% on the district assessment. I would need 21 kids to move a proficiency level in two months to reach this target. This is no way I can meet this goal.

Yes, partial success- I have a growth of 5% in proficiency if you compare the CST to the district assessment. I need a growth of 7% and for half of the year I made more than half the growth.

Yes, partial success- When I do the funny math, I have an increase of 11% of my basic kids into the P/A category, I need 15% (this works out to be 5.32 more kids).

My personal new, actually SMART, SMART goal to make sure that my successes stay a success: Between the District Assessment and the CST, my students will increase in proficiency by 2% or more overall (at least six students individually) from 40% to 42%.

We'll see how excited everyone else is about this data thing...