Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Outdoor Science School

My favorite week of the year is coming up! Outdoor Science School!

Every year we take our 6th grade class to LACOSS in Malibu, California for a whole week. Now you might be thinking...who would want to take 60 6th graders on a field trip for a week? Nine years ago I thought the exact same thing. I am so glad my partner teacher talked me into it because it is hands down the most fun I have ever had with students. (And that goes for every single year with every single group!)

The Malibu campus functions for LACOSS during the school year and as Camp Hess-Kramer, a Jewish retreat, on the weekends and in the summer time. The grounds are beautifully maintained and are positioned right across PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) from the ocean. We get to go to the beach everyday of our trip. That fact would be enough for me to sign up but, wait, there's more!

When we arrive at the camp the students are whisked off the bus and away from their school teachers. While we are there our function is to serve as surrogate mommies and nurses in the infirmary. That's it! The camp is fully staffed with outdoor education specialists and we bring along chaperones to stay with each group throughout the week.

Now that doesn't mean we sit around all day doing nothing...oh, no...we follow the kids all around the camp, taking pictures, hiking, asking questions and being students ourselves. It's a win-win situation.
My favorite part of the whole ordeal is seeing each student change from a homesick little to an I-can-take-care-of-me big within the week. It's an amazing transformation!
The camp is on the Monarch Butterfly migratory path...amazing sight!

If you want to check out the Malibu site, click the link below.

This trip is part of our school culture so all our kids know that in 6th grade you get to go to Outdoor Science School. It does not happen without sweat and tears. We start meeting with parents and fundraising in 5th grade. We have done all kinds of fundraisers because it is not a cheap trip. We have done car washes, sold t-shirts and discount cards, put on a haunted house, held numerous snack sales and asked for donations. Many times the parents pay the cost for their child through great sacrifice. Every year the price goes up and every year we beg for funds because we know it's worth it.
We also give up a week of time with our families to go and that comes with great sacrifice as well. But I have found it also brings some of the greatest blessings to my professional and personal life. There is nothing like it and I wouldn't miss it!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fighting Clutter

I simply cannot believe the amazing amount of "stuff" there is in my classroom. I realized the other day that I have "lived" in my classroom longer than I have lived in my current house. No wonder there is so much clutter! I have been making some gains but the de-cluttering is going to take much longer than I expected. I have kept up with my schedule for about two weeks and then other matters took precedence. I also realized that some areas I thought I could get done in a certain time frame are taking waaaay longer. Boy am I worn out!

This is my cart I store my projector and document camera in. Before I cleared it out I could barely fit the projector and document camera. You would think I could take that as a hint...

Check out the change in this table from my previous post here.

The bookshelf behind my desk had binders that I hadn't opened since I got them my first year of teaching...this is my ninth. Buh-bye! This photo is another drastic change from the "before"!

I am proud of the things I have done so far and every day I have (at least) a trash can full of stuff. I am also taking a pile of things up to the teacher's lounge once a week. With every little bit I can feel weight lifted from my shoulders. What a great feeling!
Check out The Clutter-Free Project here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In Progress...

Just an update on my Clutter-Free journey...

I am amazed at how easy it has been to get rid of things! I haven't even really had to consult my rules much because I am just so ready to be done with all the clutter. I have followed my calendar and I have thrown away bags and boxes full of old paperwork, given away resources I no longer use, and gained back tons of space.
I still have a long way to go but it feels so good.
I will post pictures soon!