Friday, June 29, 2012

End of an Era

If you know me at all, you've probably heard by now that I'm moving to Malaysia in about a month. I've accepted a 2-year teaching position over there and am super excited. I'm also nervous and minorly stressed about all that needs to happen before I actually move. Thankfully, I work well under pressure and know it'll all be done by the time it needs to be! :)

Although I'm excited, I'm also sad at the thought of leaving behind the past 8 years of my life. I moved to Newport News in August 2004 to attend CNU. I spent 5 years there getting my degrees and then went straight into teaching for NNPS. I've been at Palmer the past 3.5 years (did my student teaching there) and the thought of not returning there in the Fall is definitely sad. I made AMAZING friends there, had WONDERFUL students, and learned SO much.

As I went into school on the last day, it was kind of like the New Years Eve game my family always plays. "This is the last time I'll eat watermelon this year. This is the last time I'll talk on the phone for a year. Etc." (You've all done it, right? Don't make me feel like a weirdo!). So, yeah, that's what it felt like. Except, instead of it being the last time 'this year' (or for 30 more minutes), it was 'forever.' Well, I can't say I'll never return to teach at Palmer, but at this time, it's not on my radar.

Here are a few of my 'Last Times' that I thought about. There were hundreds more, but these are some that stuck out...
- The last time I'll teach in Room 21.
- The last time I'll walk down those hallways.
- The last time I'll check my Palmer mailbox.
- The last time I'll have a cook-out with Mrs. Bozung and 50+ students.
- The last time I'll present the Palmer Pride Award and have to explain to students that it doesn't really mean anything other than we didn't know what else to get you.
- The last time I'll have to wonder if the ceiling tiles are going to hold up one more day.

The last time I'll have to pack up this classroom! But, it does look pretty darn good, if I do say so!
The last time I'll drive up to this school as a teacher here.
You will ALWAYS hold a special place in my heart, Palmer. And as someone recently told me, once a Panda, always a Panda. :)

Monday, June 25, 2012


As mentioned in my last post, it was not uncommon to sit down at my desk and find a note waiting for me from a student. All of my students in my three years of teaching have been VERY good at sharing their affection and it ALWAYS made me smile.

One of my favorite letters this year was on my desk first thing when we got back from Spring Break (as in, it had been written at home on her own time!)! It said:
"Dear Ms. Wacek,
I had fun on Spring Break because I went to my grandma's house. We had fun there. When I come back to school, I will be happy because I'm going to learn things from the best teacher ever, YOU!
Your friend,

The best part is, I know she actually was excited to get back to school to learn! You can't teach that! :)

Another of my favorites:

Now, I've gotten my fair share of 'You're the Best Teacher Ever!' letters, but always read them with a grain of salt, knowing whichever teacher the kid has next year will also get that letter. :) This card, however, takes it one step further. I don't know if she actually knew what she was writing, or if she knew she'd have at least 40 more teachers after me, but I love it nonetheless.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Compare and Contrast

Most teachers will tell you that 'free time' or 'unstructured' time is usually not a good idea in the classroom as students tend to get out of hand. I fully agree. However, there are times when the higher students finish EVERY assignment early and you get sick of finding them something new to do. As was the case on the day when this masterpiece was created. One of my high achievers finished her work and without prompting, made this (compare and contrast was the skill of the week, which impressed me even more!):

Hopefully you can read all of it. Please excuse the grammar errors, I didn't say she was perfect at everything! It's finding little things like this on my desk regularly that remind me why I LOVE what I do!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"It's Official!"

Thanks to the beauty of Blogger, I can write my posts and have them publish at different times. This works well on nights when I have all the time in the world and lots of motivation for blog writing. (Ex. The blog you read yesterday and the blog you will read tomorrow were written on the same night... my secrets are revealed.) The reason I divulge this information to you is that for the next week or so, you will be receiving regular posts about my kids and wrapping up my school year. You may also receive spontaneous posts about my upcoming move to Malaysia. Hope you can track with me, it may get bumpy. I thought about publishing all of the school posts this week and then starting Malaysia talk next week, but my life is about to get uber-busy and figured I'd keep the school posts a little spaced out so that on the (probable) occasion that I can't post, you can still have something to read with your morning coffee. Plus, Malaysia stuff is happening now, so it's more fun to post it 'live' than to write it in future or past tense! All that to say, let's get down to the topic at hand.

I officially applied to teach with my sponsoring organization on Easter, 2012. I remember pushing the submit button on the online application and proclaiming, "It's official! I've applied to teach overseas!" to my family.

About a week later, I got a phone call from the head of the organization to schedule a phone interview. The interview came and 30-minutes later, I was offered a verbal contract with the school. I immediately got on the computer and emailed my family (they're all spread out around the world) that "It's official! I've got a contract!".

Life happened, a little time passed, school year started coming to an end and I realized I really needed to make sure I was really going through with this, and if so, take the steps necessary to make it happen. So, with a little help from my friend Google, I wrote my letter of resignation and turned it in with my unsigned contract to Human Resources. A few minutes later I got on Facebook and wrote...

Hopefully you can read that. If not, just note that it says, once again, "It's official!" I was overwhelmed by the support and positive reactions I got to the news. I have the best family and friends ever. For real.

But anyway, a few days later, it was the last day of the school year and I packed up my classroom and said some good-byes. Walked out the door and thought to myself, "It's official. I am no longer a teacher at Palmer." (Hopefully you're catching the theme of this post, but if not, a good reading strategy is to always look at the title for the Main Idea. Helpful hint from your favorite 4th grade teacher.)

And that brings us to today. My first week of summer has been amazing, but incredibly busy with hanging out with friends, going to the gym (amazing, but not so amazing at the same time), packing, pool, and ERRANDS! I don't know how it's possible to have as many errands to run as I do, but I feel like I've done multiple errands per day and there are still more! Anyway, today's errands involved going to the Human Resources office to turn in my NNPS ID badge and my NNPS laptop. While I was in there, I saw one of my co-workers and told her what I was doing. You'll never guess what she said. From there, I went to the thrift store and found some SUPER sweet suitcases (no, seriously. I love them. Don't judge me! They're big, light, well-made and were cheap! Not to mention nobody will try to steal them or get them confused with their own... see for yourself.)
I can now officially start packing! Oh yeah, and then I bought my plane tickets.

It's official. I'm moving to Malaysia on July 28th.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Poetry Part 2 - Teacher Poems

The last blog was getting to be too long, so I decided to save some of my favorite poems... the ones about me. :)

"My teacher is the best.
Born in the West (California).
She has a trophy made of gold and solid things.

She has lots of games,
And one you have to tame.
She likes Carrie Underwood,
because she sings really good."
I don't have a clue what line 5 means, but other than that, he knows me pretty well!

"My teacher is nice,
She has brown hair.
I wish I could follow her everywhere.

My teacher is pretty.
Each day she looks very good.
But sometimes she fusses at us,
and tells us to take off our hood."
I promise I don't bribe them or tell them what to write!

Ms. Wacek is nice.
But she hates mice.
Ms. Wacek eats rice.
But I know she still hates mice.
Hahahaha. This child might know me best of all!

Ms. Wacek is a nice teacher.
She has brown hair and hazel eyes.
She works in Room 21.
Her favorite colors are blue and pink.

Her favorite food is spaghetti.
She has a white Blackberry phone with a pink cover on it.
She uses glue for school.

Her best friend is Mrs. Bozung.
She plays kickball.
She went to CNU.
She lays on her bed after school and watches Nick Jr.
Why do I feel like this student just wrote a Missing Person poster about me and not a poem?

Monday, June 18, 2012


Now that it's officially summer, I have a little time to catch up on blogging. I say a little, because come next week, I start a 3 week period of being out of town, followed by one week of packing up my house and moving around the world. All that to say, if it doesn't get blogged in the next week, it's not happening for a while!

Way back when (around March?), we did a unit on Poetry in class. I was VERY hesitant going into this unit because my Poetry knowledge is not very strong... as in, not strong at all. I can find rhyming words and usually figure out a rhyming pattern, but that's about it. I'm terrible at theme and different types of poems, non-rhyming poetry, etc. It turned out to be a really fun unit, though, and for that I was pleased! We used a lot of Shel Silverstein type poems and my kids had a lot of fun with mental images and the goofiness he writes.

For one week of the unit, every day in their journal they had to write a poem. A couple of the days, I gave them a topic, other days they could write about whatever they wanted. Here are some of my favorites about miscellaneous topics:

My Mom
"I love my mom. She is the best.
Me and my brother tried to make cookies, but we made a mess.
I love my mom so much.
I said, "Can I see the phone?" She said, "Do not touch."

We always go places.
She makes us have smiling faces.
She is sweet.
I love her meat."

Mega points for all the creative rhymes!

My Classroom
My classroom is very big.
I have a lot of students in my class.

My school is very big.
It has a lot of kids in it.

I have a nice teacher.
We have a lot of desks in our classroom.
I think this is a case of, "I don't know what to write about, so I'm going to look around the room and write what I see."

A Weird Thing That Happened to Me
On a day that appeared very strange,
I woke up and my mother told me to wear string.
On the bus ride to school,
Everyone said I looked cool.

In school, I accidentally tooted,
So everyone stood up and hooted.
At lunch, I spilled my tray,
And everyone shouted, "Yay!"

At the end of the day,
I found out I got an A on my test today.

Spring is fun.
But I don't have enough money to buy a ring.
So please just leave.
Ok, I don't understand.

Winter is my favorite season
I can give you 2 reasons.
First, I love the snow.
But, I would really love to watch a funny show.
Second, my birthday is in the winter.
But, I hope I don't get a splinter.
I'm not sure she actually knows the meaning or idea of 'But'....

Summer is the best.
It has a nice pool
When I want to stay cool.
I know a person who has a tool
That can fix the pool.

A person jumped in the pool
Which broke the tool
And it got so cruel.
Everyone had to fool him to go home.

 I do believe his rhyming pattern is ABBBBBBBC.

And finally, my future rap star:
I go to P***** Elementary School.
But mainly everyone sleeps and drools.

On Monday, we go to Library with Ms. Jones,
Mostly I check out books about bones.

On Tuesday, we go to Art,
But mostly all I hear are farts.

Wednesday, I go to PE,
But basketball is too easy for me.

Thursday is Music,
But when I don't hear Michael Jackson, I lose it.

Friday is PE again,
Now I really hope it will end.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Career Day!

This week (the last full week of school!) has been "Focus on the Future" Spirit Week.

Monday was College Spirit Day... none of my kids participated. Mostly because they forgot, but also because many of them don't have a clue which college they'll go to. Very few of them have parents who've attended college, so it's kind of a foreign concept. But it was also Monday, so no reminder the night before! :) I, of course, was rocking my CNU silver and blue!

Tuesday was Sunglasses Day... "Your future is BRIGHT!" A lot participated in this one... mostly because they wanted to show off their stunna shades and aren't allowed to any other day! It was pretty cute, but also minutely annoying trying to teach without being able to see clearly (mine only stayed on for about 5 minutes!) and knowing that all attention was lost due to the 'toys' in the room!

Wednesday was Green Day! "We are on the GO to a successful future!" Every quarter we have a "Time for Celebration" to reward the students who have consistently shown good behavior (stayed on green) throughout the marking period. The final one for the school year was Wednesday, so we tried to correspond the spirit day to it. A LOT of kids showed up in green (St. Patty's Day #2 for the year!) and the Time for Celebration was a huge success!

Yesterday was Career Dress-Up Day! This is probably one of my favorite days of each school year. Not only because I get to fantasize about what life would be like if I weren't a teacher (not nearly as fun!), but also because I get to hear from the kids about their dreams and goals. About half my class dressed up, and I had just about all the bases covered: everything from school librarian to DJ, basketball player, nurse, teacher, singer, WWE Wrestler, lawyer, and police officer. For their journal prompt, I made them all write about what career they wanted to be... and why... and what it would take to achieve that. Then we shared them aloud. It was awesome, and hilarious.

My DJ decided he wanted to be a DJ because he could make a lot of money and give a lot of money back to help poor women and children. ALL of them mentioned that they would need good grades and a college degree to accomplish their dreams. Hopefully they keep believing that! One of my less 'buff' students (one who has been known to cry once or twice this school year), proudly declared he wanted to be a NAVY Seal because he wanted to help people and protect our freedoms. He continued by saying he would need to get good grades (of course) and work out a lot. And I quote, "I can't be a little wimpy guy or I won't even be able to lift up the gun!"

Not too shabby for a $3 costume, huh? :)
Found this pin at the Goodwill for $1! It was sweet... except ALL day I had to listen to students ask if my sister Molly was really a flight attendant/pilot/captain/had ever ridden on a plane/etc.