I suppose books are filled with many chapters and if I am viewing my career as a book, then I should not be surprised to find some chapters are longer than others.
My last post here was when I began my career as an administrator with the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District. When I joined YCJUSD I was fully prepared to spend many years there, just as I had done in the Fontana Unified School District before them, where I spent 18 years. Sadly, declining enrollment and budget issues made it so the decision was made to eliminate my position as elementary assistant principal at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. It was that experience coupled with my own experiences as a classroom teacher at the elementary level that reminded me what a luxury it is to have an assistant principal at the elementary level even a few days a week.
Being the assistant principal for Valley Elementary & Chapman Heights Elementary schools in Yucaipa was an amazing experience, and a very positive one. I had two amazing principals with very different leadership styles who served as excellent mentors and role models. I also had two amazing staffs, brimming with talented professionals at all levels that enriched each and every day I spent with them. I couldn’t have asked for or dreamed of better.
When I was informed that I would be losing my position, I was offered a classroom placement. I served as a classroom teacher for 15.5 years, I chose the administration path and as a result I chose to remain on that path. It didn’t take much looking at all before I happened upon the Central School District in Rancho Cucamonga, and it wasn’t long before I was offered a position.
March 2020 kicked off a whirlwind for me like no other. I was leaving my job in Yucaipa much sooner than I could have ever guessed, there is a global pandemic resulting in closures of all the things we are used to and enjoy as a society, I was job hunting, I was participating in numerous Zoom interviews… I am grateful and feel very fortunate to have been invited to join the Central School District as one of their newest assistant principals, and more specifically to join the community of Coyote Canyon Elementary School.
Thank you to all those who have supported me, mentored me, encouraged me and loved me through all of this. Without you I don’t know where I would be.
I have been quiet on my blog for many reasons, but the main one being that I was working toward another shift in my career as an educator. I became aware that my position as a Teacher on Assignment was not going to be continued into the next school year, so I was looking at going back into the classroom. That prospect was exciting to me. I am an educator, how could it not be?
For the past 2.5 years as a teacher on assignment working out of the central office, I realized that I missed being at a school site. I missed being a part of a school community. I missed seeing the kids each day, collaborating with my fellow educators, talking with school staff, celebrating successes, and addressing challenges. Since I am working on my doctorate in educational leadership, it made sense to me that I would look to return to a school site as an administrator. I had been interviewing for months with no offers so I had figured my return to a school site would be in the classroom. Since I wanted my return to a school site to be a new adventure for me, I asked Human Resources to place me at a middle school since I was well aware my credential would permit me to teach at that level. I had been placed at a wonderful middle school, even toured the room I would have to teach 8th grade Language Arts and Social Studies, spoke with the principal several times, and met staff members. I did make the principal aware I was still interviewing for administrator positions, but those were coming to a close. Soon after I finished my final interviews, I was offered a position as an assistant principal at two elementary schools by my new district. I was excited to accept and am thrilled to be a part of something new. It wasn’t until I had to resign my position with my former district of 18 years that I realized I was truly beginning a new chapter. I suppose signing that resignation made it very real. I have no regrets. My former district taught me so much about being an educator and a leader. They hired me when no one else would and encouraged me when no one else did. I am indebted to them for providing me with such an amazing group of educators to work with and learn from.
When I first left the classroom I struggled with what to do with this site. While I posted some over my tenure as a teacher on assignment, I did not post as much as I would have liked. Now that I am returning to not one, but two school sites, I would like to think I could blog more regularly. I can’t promise that as I know how busy school administrators are, but I would like to try. It is my intent to share as much as I can as I transition from educator to administrator.
This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and edtech enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt.
Thanks for stopping by. Today’s post is about my work space. The task was laid out as follows:
This week, we want to take a closer look at where we spend the majority of our work days. Our classrooms, our offices, cubes, home offices, coffee shops, or anywhere else where we “get work done”.
Write a post that discusses your classroom or place of work. Some topics you may wish to address include:
The physical space – how you approach layout of furniture, technology, etc.
The aesthetics – share a photo and/or discuss decorating your space
Staying organized – how you do (or don’t) keep organized
Tips, tricks, or advice related to the above
Anything else you wish to share!
We want just a little window into your daily work life.
I could probably fill this post with various photos of the work spaces I have had. I am not sure any exist of my first classroom. I was teaching 2nd grade at the time at a school that had been built in the 1950s. I was in a room that was primarily brick walls, except for its interior walls that were those accordion wall thingies from back when they did some kind of communal teaching. (Which I actually remember from my own 3rd grade experience at another school in the 80s.) In the center of the building were communal learning spaces that were accessible from the back of the classroom (there was no door and the accordon wall did not close all the way). These spaces were clearly no longer used for any useful purpose other than exposed and cluttered storage. It was a sad sight. In my classroom there were a few high narrow windows on the exterior wall and that was it. I did my best with that space, but it was a challenge. When I think back on that room I wonder if the teachers there now have made better use of those center spaces…they would be perfect to make over for more innovative learning spaces. I would love to go back and see. After that classroom I became a “roving” teacher. I had a 4/5 combo class, 4 rolling cabinets, and no classroom of my own. It was my district’s solution to a multi-track year round school calendar. I moved another teacher’s room every 6 or 8 weeks when they went “off track.” It was quite the experience.
My second classroom was a portable at another school in the same district. I was teaching 5th grade now. I got to experience the joy of a portable (no sarcasm intended!) and my own space. I really did enjoy it. Every wall in a portable is a bulletin board! My only complaint about portables is the floor and heavy footed students. 😉
Then I transferred to my last school where I had a few rooms based on grade level assignment. The school was only a year old when I arrived and I was thrilled. All my previous schools had been old…and I don’t mean just schools I taught at. ALL my schools had been old…from K to college. It seems they suddenly got fancy new makeovers once I had long been through. So it was a real treat to work at a new facility. I had several rooms with nice built in cabinets and shelves and SOLID floors! Oh the little things in life. In my last year at this school I ended up in a portable again, which I didn’t mind. I enjoyed the lack of the built ins because it allowed me freedom to place furniture where I liked. It was a brand new portable to the school (one pulled from another site where it wasn’t needed and brought over so it wasn’t a NEW portable, just new to the school.) I got all new furniture which was nice, but the district was slow in getting it to the school and it didn’t arrive until just a few days before the school year. It was a mad race to beat the clock in getting it ready. I worked a few VERY late nights, but in the end it was good enough to go the first day of school. I loved it.
I was encouraged to apply for my current position as an Instructional Coach by my principal and ultimately by the director of the department I work in. I really didn’t want to leave mid-year but that is the way it happened. I had to pack up right before winter break 2015. I came over to the district office only to find they had no place for me and the 2 others they had hired for the department. So I was roving again, but in a much smaller way. I had my own devices and hotspot so I could do work anywhere (I have long been that way). Myself and my two colleagues spent several weeks huddled around our new director’s table in his office before they finally got us a small room of our own off site at the adult school. I was there for a fair amount of time before real estate (cubicles) opened up at the district office and we were summoned back, where I claimed a spot for myself, and I have been there ever since. It has been an experience scaling down from an entire classroom to myself (and 30+ students) to sharing a cubicle with one other person. All my classroom stuff lives in a storage unit now. I can’t let it go just yet because…you never know! I do wish I had at least an office with a door than a part of a cubicle…oh and a window would be nice.
At home I have an office which I am always changing. Because I am prone to WAY TOO MUCH screen time, I removed any actual desk and put in my treadmill (which I turned into a treadmill desk with a wood shelf and some clamps) along with a bike desk. So if I am going to be on the computer for hours at a time doing coursework for my doctorate or gaming or otherwise entertaining myself, then I am going to be moving!
I also make pretty much anywhere a work space if I need it to be. I never go on a trip without my laptop or my Windows tablet. Even now, I made a work space at the dealership while waiting for my husband’s car to have it’s battery replaced!
So this post turned more into “The History and Eccentricity of Mrs. Ruiz’s Work Spaces” than addressing much about the prompt blogging points, but I suppose that is alright. I am sure some of you can identify with me.
As I work toward using my class website in new ways related to my work as an educator and parent of a 6th grader, I am using a tool I have used in the past with my Second Life blog, Bloglovin. It’s a great tool to follow blogs with as well as to easily read all the blogs I follow. I am currently building it up with my favorite blogs and “claiming” my blog. The “claiming” process required I make this post to show that I am the owner of this blog. If you are an avid blog reader or want to be one, Bloglovin’s is a great tool.
Please make sure your child is at school and on time, have had a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast. There are practice tests online which we will be using in class and in the lab. You are welcome to use them with your child at home. You do not need to input any information, you can use the practice tests with “GUEST” in the fields. All you will need is to select your child’s grade level.
I am curious as to your thoughts on homework for the last 13 days of school. Please reply to this survey. If you would like to make a comment on the subject, please do so in the comments area of this post. Thank you! ~Mrs. Ruiz
I have been a bit late in getting this going, but I finally have had enough time to set it up so I present MULTIPLICATION MONSTERS!
Having basic multiplication (0-12) committed to memory is HUGE in third grade. It isn’t uncommon for teachers to make some sort of visual incentive to motivate their students. I am a heavy user of Class Dojo (which I may write about at another time) and on this behavior management system the avatars used to represent my students are “monsters” which I find amusingly and affectionately appropriate. So when I saw these Trend Enterprises Furry Friends Mini Accents in a pack of 36 (yes having 36 is a big deal…I am often quite irritated at packs of 20 or some nonsense when class size is always on the rise..I presently have 32 students and have been told I could have 33 at most…but this is a rant for another post) I knew they were perfect.
So I picked them up along with some lil stars and made a simple table in Word for each lil monster to hold. Each one of my students has their very own Multiplication Monster for them to track their progress on. (click photos to enlarge)
I have never been one for flashy bulletin boards. I rather prefer the clean and non-time consuming approach. So I was rather pleased with the way it turned out and I know my students will be thrilled to see their new monsters and will be excited about their multiplication quizzes. The “party” I use most is what I call a reward lunch where top point earners in Class Dojo are invited to lunch with me in the classroom where they can watch a movie (as much as a 40 minute lunch will allow). They LOVE this and it has been a huge hit. So I will be having a special lunch for those students who successfully reach their twelves.
Thanks for reading!
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
(Here is the body of a note I sent home today. This post will be updated with the items parents will be bringing.)
December 16, 2013
We will be having a winter party in class this Friday, December 20th beginning at 11:30 am. I would like to have a potluck, so if you are willing to bring in food for the class (32 students), please let me know by sending me an email with what you would like to send to class with your child. Students are welcome to bring gifts for classmates on Friday to give out during our party. If you have any questions about this at all, please email me.
After spending some time on the Scholastic website I found a great page of computer lab activities. CLICK HERE to visit the page and play some new games. My students should play the 3rd-5th games, not the K-2nd.
What a day! Field trips are always a special endeavor, usually filled with excitement. For me, there is a bit of stress involved, being one of the teachers in charge. I was thrilled so many parents wanted to attend. I have never had ELEVEN parents on a field trip. That is usually because of bus space and cost, but we were fortunate to sign up for a special program from the LA County Fair that allowed all our 3rd graders and parent volunteers to attend for free! Having so many parents really made the trip a breeze. I did have plenty to stress about even with such great support. The first stress of the day came at 8:20am when our buses were 5 minutes late. That is very unlike our district buses so I thought I had better go check. Turns out the bus request was not input properly. My heart sunk hearing this. I had ninety 3rd graders in our quad ready to go and we had no buses? This could not be happening. Our principal got right on it, and while she worked it out, we had to return to our classes and wait. I did not want to let on to the kids that something was wrong, but how could I not when we were going back to class and not getting on buses? The kids were great though. They were happy to watch the Magic School Bus while the adults sorted the matter. The parent volunteers pooled money together to get the kids extra snacks when they learned we were likely still going, just a bit later and for a longer time than originally anticipated. So about an hour and a half after we were supposed to leave, buses came for us and we were on our way!
I wish I could post photos here of the kids on the bus and all their fun at the fair. I really enjoyed seeing all the wonder and awe in their eyes…even over the simplest of things. I guess that is what being an adult does to you, takes away the thrill of the ‘little things,’ until you see it in a child. The highlight of the trip had to be the farm animals. We read a story this week called “Cows in the Parlor” which explained how cows are milked. At the fair today they had a milking demonstration, and the story came to life for the kids, it was impressive. There was a petting zoo and all sorts of animals to see. Our kids don’t live on farms and they rarely get to see these sorts of animals up close. I really enjoyed watching them explore the animals and talk excitedly among themselves about them.
In the end, despite the late start, and the late pick up, the kids had a wonderful time. That is all that matters right?
Thanks again to the parents who came on the trip, my colleagues Ms. Moore and Mrs. Alaniz, and to our principal Mrs. Cabrales for doing what she could to make sure this happened for us.