Middle Grade Books and Authors that I Highly Recommend!!!

Last year when I taught 4th and 5th graders, I began to really dig into the books in that level.  I usually like to know what the kids are currently reading, and as a 7th and 8th grade teacher, I read Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, and the Divergent series with them.  The issue though, for me, was that these YA books began to feel like cotton candy.  They were really fun to read, but after a while.. they felt overly saccharine.  I actually finally finished  The Brothers Karamazov after a long stint of YA.  I just craved something.. substantial.

Interestingly, that didn’t happen when I began reading these “children’s novels.”  And it made me remember reading an interview or article with/about Katherine Patterson (or was it Lois Lowry) where someone said that they love children’s books because they stick with you forever.  Or basically, these children’s books are written for children who will grow up to become adults who will still read and remember these books from their childhood.

I really believe that to be true. There are so many books that I read as a kid whose themes stick to my bones even now. There were so many books that helped me navigate situations… And even though I wasn’t a little white boy with a dog, I really appreciated the lessons that followed me through the years.

Anyway since last year, I’ve gotten to read old authors that I’d never experienced, new authors that are hitting the scene, and old books that I enjoyed in the past, and new books from old authors … (Did I hit every category)?

Usually, after reading a lot, I tend to get desensitized to quality so then when something really good died happen, it totally pops out!! With that said, after literally reading over 50 middle grade (NOT YA books) in 2017, these are the books and folks who definitely out to me:


Current Books/Authors (authors are alive and still writing):

  • TRENTON LEE STEWART!!!!!! (The Mysterious Benedict Society series is so great.  The Secret Keepers also was really well done – there was a point where I was frightened and had to speed up my reading because I couldn’t figure out how the protagonists were going to get out of their predicament)
    • Great read-aloud or independent book for kids who like puzzle and mysteries.
  • KATE DICAMILLO – how she can write on themes of loss, death, poverty… in a way that is quiet, solemn, and yet doesn’t “baby” her young readers is beyond me.  Her books are lovely and so different. Each one.
    • Think: Katherine Paterson type books
  • Rebecca Stead – impressed by her different stories, protagonists, and the real way she addresses real middle-school conflict.
    • One of her books is a throwback to A Wrinkle in Time!!! She plays a bit with some sci-fi and there’s always some mystery.
  • Jacqueline Woodson – I love books written in prose poetry.  Her books allow kids to experience books that help you feel, books that describe, books that “show”.  She also highlights experiences that are usually pushed aside.
    • Think: Sandra Cisneros (House on Mango Street).  Lots of protagonists of color!
  • Richard Peck – I think he’s still writing, and he’s been writing a LONG time about books that are set in the early 1900s in rural areas and I love them I love them I love them. [I liked his books so much that it warranted a run-on sentence].  They’re short and perfect for 3rd-5th graders, I think.  I don’t know how I’ve never read his books, but I’m making up for lost time at the age of 30.
    • many different protagonists all set in earlier times.  Kind of your precursor to Anne of Green Gables or Little House on the Prairie.. or Old Yeller.  Those kinds of books.  But a LOT easier to read.  
  • Sharon G. Flake – books may be for kids 4th grade and up.  The way she writes REALLY rings true for so many of my students of color.  Her authentic voice and situations (and not watering down facts) but still acknowledging the difficulties of childhood is really wonderful.
    • Set in urban areas – and realistic without sensationalizing anything.
  • Neil Gaiman – He writes books that ranges – from funny kids picture books to intense adult novels. This man has so much talent.
    • Coraline, The Graveyard Book .. are for kids. Other ones might be a little more adult
  • Grace Lin  – One of her series (geared towards a 2nd-4th grade audience) is a typical Ramona Quimby or Junie B. Jones type of chapter book except her main character is Taiwanese-American girl. It’s nice!  Then she has books for older readers that are beautiful and weave in folktales.  Lovely.
  • Catherynne M. Valente – Magickal with a K!  More for older readers, I think BUT a great/fun read aloud. Great for those who enjoyed Phantom Tolbooth or Alice in Wonderland – type stories.
  • Jason Reynolds – Raw, stories that are unapologetic and real.  His books really captured my male students of color.
  • Sarah Pennypacker – I haven’t actually read a lot of her books, but Pax is a story about a boy and a fox.  And … just think of Homeward Bound, or Where the Red Fern Grows, and you’ll understand the appeal of this book.  If she can write Pax, I’m sure the others are great too.

Oldies and Goodies 

  • Katherine Paterson (so. many.)
  • Lois Lowry (The Giver, Number the Stars…)
  • Jerry Spinelli (so many…)
  • Sandra Cisneros (poetic prose. Lovely)
  • Roald Dahl (everything!)
  • Beverly Cleary (Ramona Quimby!!)
  • Judy Blume (her Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing, Fudge, etc.. are hilario)
  • Oh and of course: Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time series, Chronicles of Narnia, Percy Jackson, Dear America, Encyclopedia Brown, Ender’s Game, and Pony Pals. 🙂 🙂 🙂

I’m sure there’s many more…  I try to review almost everything I read on Goodreads but if I’m missing something, definitely drop a comment.

PS:  There is something to be said for comics and graphic novels. I think authors are doing amazing things with that cartoon medium, and kids can learn a lot about rhetorical devices from those genres as well.  I’d always encourage diverse reading with kids (and if it takes reading books out loud to a kid to sell it to them, why not? Or get an audio-book for them to read along to!) … but I am totally not opposed to comics even if that means that’s all a kid reads for a season.

Some graphic novels and comics (or authors of them) that I recommend:

  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan (no words at all — lots to ponder though)
  • Persepolis (definitely for older audiences — talks about life in Iran before and during the Islamic revolution)
  • Raina Telgemeier has books that were super popular with my 4th/5th graders.
  • Amelia’s Notebooks, Dork Diaries and Big Nate are both popular series for students who are reluctant readers.
  • Brian Selznick has interesting gray illustrations that are a big part of the plot.  (He wrote Hugo)
  • Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese is wonderful)
  • Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book

What does it mean when I shake your hand?

Shaking hands with every student who enters my room was something that I was taught in my fourth year of teaching. I thought it was sort of lame at first, but when my coach timed me, and it came out to be less than 3 minutes, I felt like this wasn’t a battle I was going to fight. If someone thought that my shaking hands was a habit that made me a better teacher, I wasn’t going to argue.  Yet over the years, I realized this isn’t something I want to let go.

Sometimes, sad to say, that beginning of class handshake is our only interaction for the day.  It’s a step in our relationship.

That beginning of class handshake means you are seen.  I love you.  I care for you.  It’s a message.

That beginning of class handshake is also a reminder.  Be your best. Do your best.  Remember yesterday’s victories and failures and learn from them.  It’s my belief in your capacity.

That beginning of class handshake is a way for you to see what a strong greeting looks like — that eye contact and a firm grasp is one way to set the tone.  It’s a model.

That beginning of class handshake is unwaveringly strong.  One day you will mirror that strength back to me.  It’s a symbol of my hope in your growth.

So in case you didn’t know.  When I clasp your hands and say, “Good morning/afternoon,” it’s more than a greeting.  It’s hands joined in alliance – we are here with a shared goal.  It’s an unspoken agreement – we will fulfill  our personal responsibility.  It’s affection – I see you and I am so happy you are here.



Disclaimer: If you’re sick, don’t touch me!  (Love you. kthxbye)

Progress Reports Hack


  • My kids don’t all have e-mail addresses.
  • My school doesn’t have a universal grading system/hub.
  • We are standards-based (but not everyone is trained in this. AKA, many kids just think 4=A, 3=B, 2=C, etc… when really, most kids should shoot for a 3 (at grade-level target))

My Philosophy:

  • This year, I want to try rarely putting “grades” on work I give back.  Rather, I highlight errors and write comments (since usually kids just look for their grades and don’t learn from their mistakes).
  • It’s important to give kids regular feedback – even though most kids aren’t super motivated by grades, they are to an extent. And it’s important for them to see how their actions connect to the results.
  • If I’m grading, they might as well see what’s there. If they’re checking, then mistakes could be taken care of sooner than later!

My Grading Hack!

So, I keep track of exit slips, homework, etc in Google Sheets. I really like Google Sheets because it’s accessible via Google Chrome, my smartphone, and anywhere as long as I have internet.

I’ve already buffed it up using conditional formatting, rounded averages, and then class averages (so that I can get one little piece of data to inform how the lesson went).  ((Aside: ThoughtCo is super helpful for figuring out excel formulas.  As was my 10th grade Keyboarding class LOL (this one time, I tried to take Journalism and was super intimidated and dropped it. There were no other classes available except a keyboarding class that would fulfill a career/voc. ed. credit.. so I took that. And learned to type really well and then did computer application projects and then began ceramics.. and that’s how I began to blow glass in high school!)).


I wanted to figure out a way to use Mail Merge so that kids could just automatically see the grades.  The problem was my kids don’t all have e-mail!  I also didn’t want one document with pages of grades.  I didn’t want to keep printing out progress reports (especially if they were for the kids and not their parents)… in my head, I wanted something where if I uploaded my excel sheet, each child would have ONE document shared with them that they could check ANY TIME and see their progress!

There are many Google Sheets Add-Ons, but the best one was Autocrat.  All the other ones would cap it, only offer a free trial, etc.  SAVE YOUR TIME.   Also, Autocrat has a NIFTY help document.

So, basically, using Autocrat (super user-friendly), I created a standard Progress Report sheet for 7th and 8th grade.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 9.07.51 PM

Then, once I connected them, it ALL WORKED!!!

And it’s beautiful!  See?

Progress ReportContinuum

AND I can share it JUST with them. AND a parent if necessary.  AND i made it so that it automatically updates every 24 hours.  So, I don’t have to worry about anything except updating my templates and my spreadsheet.


I document homework regularly on paper. However, by scanning it quickly, I can figure out if students have a 1, 2, 3, or 4. I’ll probably update bi-weekly. Then for important homework or classwork assignments, I can just list missing assignments in the spreadsheet and it shows up on their report!

Missing Work

Future Notes:

What I want to figure out in the future is how to make an “if-then” type of option with 4 options (this is how I stumbled across ThoughtCo in the first place).  Rather than having student see a number, I want another column where given a number, the description of that band would be inputted into the progress report.  


I want them to READ where they are. And internalize that they’re not “at a 3” but “on target” or “almost there.”

PS: Did you notice how the rubric is color-coded so that it matches the area (exit slips, homework, blended, etc) that it describes?  I might be more explicit about this if kids don’t get it (aka, just label it).  But right now, it’s so pretty AND formats well.

PPS: I need to translate it into Spanish.

PPPS: Did you notice that rather than giving the PERCENTAGE of how much each category is worth, I did it in FRACTIONS? That’s because I’m mean and kids keel over every time they see fractions.  But really, if I made this a pie chart, they’d totally get it.

Classroom Agreements

So, I finally started year 7, and I have to say, it’s the smoothest one yet.  There are definitely a few bumps (quite a few these past few days actually), but I am glad to say that for the most part, the classroom is up and running.

I always have a hard time figuring out what to do at the start of the year, to ease my kids into the idea of school and what school requires.

This year, I was pretty happy with a short lesson I did on the third day of school. It’s something I did to set the stage last year when I took over a 4/5 combo classroom in November, and I tweaked it for my 7th and 8th grade math classes this year.

The philosophy of this stems from my experience that when students take part in creating their classroom rules (norms, agreements, expectations, blah blah), they are more inclined to at least grudgingly accept that they exist when they are called to account for them.

However, beyond just having a floating set of classroom agreements, I like to root it in why kids come to school anyway and WHY in the States, at least, we FUND free education.  Reminding students of WHY we’re here, then looking at the obstacles that prevent them from achieving the WHY, then leads us to the agreements that the class sets for themselves.  It’s a rather tidy package, and yes, it sounds tidier than the messy work of day-to-day getting along, but at least we have a foundation that I feel able to build upon.

Without further ado:

Materials: post-its, large construction paper, projector

Optional: slides with discussion questions/photos

Warm-Up / Do-Now / Bellwork: (2-min)

On your post-it, write your name and answer the question, “Why do you go to school?”  (For kids who claim they have no idea, ask them why are their parents sending them to school.  Allow the “I’m forced to.” responses)

Hook (10-12 min):

After most of the kids are done, I set up my projector and show these slides with photos taken from the article, “25 of the Most Dangerous and Unusual Ways to Get to School.”

I don’t preface these slides too much — just showing them gets the kids awed and amazed.

Once we finish clicking through the photos, I have the students turn-and-talk.  Since this is the third day of school, prior to the turn-and-talk, we go through what a meaningful turn-and-talk is, and what students should be doing.

I ask the kids to answer 2 questions: Why do people go to school, and why do they (my students) go to school?

(Aside: Depending on the group, sometimes, I feel the need to remind them that unlike many other countries, and even the US 100 years ago, our schools are free and open to everybody.  I ask them why people would pay for an education or why people care so much.)

Then, I have a spokesperson from each table group share their table’s main thoughts.  As they do so, we practice listening respectfully, projecting our voices if we are talking, and using agreement hand signals.

Also, I collect the post-its from the individuals from the table that is sharing and post them on the large construction paper I have.  I roughly group them in categories.

They range from “To go to college and get a good job, to make my family proud, and to learn” to “my parents make me go.”

Framing The Objective (2 min):

I explain today we are coming up with classroom agreements.  I then emphasize how these kids have been in school for almost a decade already and they know what they need to succeed.  I also don’t want to make a BUNCH of rules or USELESS rules, which is why I need their ideas in crafting classroom agreements.

Building Agreements (15-20 minutes)

To help us with agreements, we should root it in our reasons for why we come.  I summarize for the kids what their main reasons are, and then, I ask them What obstacles get in the way?  I bring up each main reason, “To learn, to succeed, to make friends, etc etc,” and then kids pipe up with obstacles.  As I call on volunteers, I actually like to call one person, and then have that person call the next one.  It helps me gauge the social meter in my classroom.

I end up with a whiteboard full of obstacles such as…

  • not paying attention
  • not getting enough help
  • not enough money to get supplies
  • distracting others
  • others distract you
  • feeling shy about getting the wrong answer
  • having a bad day
  • etc

Then, I talk about what we can control and what we can’t.  I cross off the obstacles we can’t control (there usually are only 1 or 2.. mainly having to do with parents or money), and then ask students, “What can students do to overcome these obstacles?”

As they express an idea, I draw an arrow specifically to each of the obstacles the actions would fix (we are usually able to fix most of the obstacles).  From this, we are able to specify, clarify, and narrow into 4-5 agreements.  I frame it as, “Can we agree to…?”  If a classroom is missing an agreement that I would really want, I just bring it up and ask them.  “Hey guys, I know that these are your agreements, but do you think we could also agree to come to school prepared with our materials and homework?”  I keep the explanation short, and kids are usually agreeable.


Lastly, I ask, “What can the teacher do to help?”   I want them to know that along with their classroom agreements, I also want to actively join them in their endeavors for success.   This ALSO is a time when I’m able hit the rest of the obstacles that kids feel get in the way (for instance, “Not understanding how to do something” gets nixed by the teacher agreeing to try to break down a problem if a student doesn’t get it the first time).

The first time I did this, it was a suuuuper long conversation on the rug, and most kids were able to hang in there, but I didn’t want it to last that long this year.  So, my first period, we took about 50 minutes, but the rest of the classes took about 35-40 minutes.

IMG_8920Afterwards, I removed the post-its, but in that space, I wrote their reasons and made the ones that had more public approval a larger font while the random ones were smaller.  It was interesting to see how some classes were mainly motivated by force while others were motivated with the desire to learn.





Then, I wrote each classroom’s agreements on separate sheets of construction paper.  This year, I posted them at the front and grouped the 7th grade classes together and the 8th grade classes together.


Lastly, I combined all the agreements for the teacher from all the classes and put them into one sheet for me.  (Aside, it’s really interesting and sweet to see just the obvious but simple agreements my kids wish from their teacher.)

The next day, I showed these posters to the class.  I toyed with the idea of having them sign it, but to be honest, I was ready to move into some actual math lessons and didn’t want to spend time passing the poster around for them to sign.  However, I know that a lot of teachers do that, and I’m sure it would be nice.  I’m also certain that this will quell any child’s future retort, “I never agreed to…”


I also told them how rather than having different teacher agreements for different classes, that I believe that if one class felt it would be good for them, it probably would be good for all the other classes.  I also have it so that all the agreements that I’m following number way more than theirs.  This is ALSO good arsenal to have during follow-up conversations with a child who breaks an agreement by pointing out that Ms. Kim has more agreements to follow.

As the year progresses, I like to personally read it and remind myself what the kids want from me, and I like to gauge myself in public with a classroom (especially a class I might be having issues with), just to model what it means to agree to something within a community, and how to reflect on your progress.  I also told them how rather than having different teacher agreements for different classes, how I believe that if one class felt that it would be good for them, it probably would be good for all the other classes.  I also have it so that all the agreements that I’m following number way more than theirs.  This is ALSO good arsenal to have during follow-up conversations with a child who breaks an agreement by pointing out that Ms. Kim has more agreements to follow.

Thoughts for the Future and Next Year

  • Have students fill out a survey for why they come to school.  Then, create a wordcloud for each class and one large wordcloud for the grades.
  • Bring the 7th grade agreements to the 8th graders and ask them what they would keep or change
  • In the 2nd month of school, bring up the “why we come to school” posters, and ask ourselves if we are on track.  Tweak the agreements if necessary.
  • Survey at the end of the year: see if reasons why we come are still the same or different.

Random Mini-Unit I Wrote After 1 Year of Teaching…

I wrote this for a job of mine 5 years ago. Not sure what grade it was intended for and if I’d use all the suggested activities etc.  I think it’s interesting that issues that I thought might require empathy 5 years ago are just as relevant today. Sort of sad, actually.  

In other news, contemplating closing this blog and just starting a new one. Hmm.  This one is hopelessly disorganized.

Teaching Empathy Regarding Immigration via The Arrival

Session 1: Establishing Background Information (Half-session)

A.  Build Common Experience

Run an informal survey of classroom demographics (By a show of hands, ask how many students moved to the US.  How many students have parents who moved to the US.  How many students have grandparents who moved to the US., etc).

B.  “Where do I stand?” Survey

Based on the tenor of your class and the current political climate, create a series of statements for students to respond with the following options: “Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.”

Statements should vary around the themes of immigration, settling, hospitality, and identity.

Sample Statements:

“Immigration is bad for the country.”

“America is what it is today because of immigration.”

“People should stick to what is familiar.”

“I consider myself American.”

**When thinking up statements, make sure they connect to the lesson objective of teaching students about empathy.

This survey will be brought out again for students to see where they used to stand and where they stand after the unit.


Read The Arrival and in their journal write a personal response answering some or all of the following questions: What facets of the book stuck out to you and why?  Why do you think Shaun Tan chose to use a wordless medium?  What might have been conveyed via this picture book that would not have been or could not have been shown if there was text?

Read and Annotate “The Immigrants.”  Be prepared to discuss both pieces in class.

Session 2: Synthesizing what we know

A.  Collective Knowledge Sharing

In groups, allow for discussion surrounding The Arrival and “The Immigrants.”

If you like, you may ensure that discussions remain on task and is split up equally by assigning 1 note-taker, 1 timekeeper, 1 facilitator, and 1 reporter.


Possible Questions for discussion:

Go over questions from the journal write.

What stuck out to you in “The Immigrants” and why?

How are “The Immigrants” and The Arrival the same and how are they different?

How do these alternative mediums (poetry and graphics) help to get the message across?

Have reporters report on their groups’ discussion (or have a reporter report on a specific question) and use this moment to unpack The Arrival and “The Immigrants.”

Transition from the wordless The Arrival to the language-rich “The Immigrants.”

B.  Lesson on Language

Depending on your teaching style and your current classroom level, explain or review the following:

Difference in word/phrase meanings

Connotation vs. Denotation

Figurative language


*Be sure to use/find examples from “The Immigrants” to bolster your points.

C.  Themes Study

Although the topics are similar, the themes and opinions differ between “The Immigrants” and The Arrival. 


Engage class in a dialogue about the different themes and have a group brainstorm about what areas are connected and what areas differ.  Be sure to put in textual/graphic/narrative support.

Have them start on their assignment


Assignment:  Pick a specific theme or issue that is covered in “The Immigrants” and The Arrival and write a 2-3 paragraph analysis explaining how this theme/issue is approached in each piece and which approach is more effective, more relatable, more fair, or more (insert own opinion).

Session 3: Connecting to the Real World

A. Current Event Stations

Have students spend 10-12 minutes per station to read the article / watch the YouTube clip and then have them respond to questions specific to the article/clip that relate to the themes and connect to or challenge students’ personal opinions/beliefs.

Break students into small groups and have students take turns being one of the following at each station:

1 Recorder

1 Facilitator / ensures everyone speaks

1 Timekeeper

Suggested station materials:



B.  Personal Response

Have students journal about their overall thoughts concerning immigration and relocation.  Encourage them to draw from The Arrival, “The Immigrants,” and their impressions from the news articles today.

After five minutes, tell students to push back on what they have written or respond to what someone else might have said in their journals.

Assignment:  Prepare for In-Class Debate tomorrow (will be assigned tomorrow) by thinking up pros and cons and its respective supports for the following statement:  Children of illegal immigrants should not be allowed to receive state grants from college.   (Question may be changed for whatever is appropriate/current).

Session 4:  Challenging our Thoughts

A.  How to write an Op-Ed

Refer back to articles from the previous day.

Talk about what they noticed about the elements of an op-ed.

Pass out a checklist for what is needed in an op-ed and tell them they will be writing an op-ed (so pay attention during the debate).




B.  In-Class debate

– Explain the format

10 minutes to prepare; 3 minute opening statement for each side; 2 minutes for rebuttals on each side; 5 minutes for questions from the audience (teacher); 5 minutes for final preparations; 2 minutes for concluding thoughts.

[Total time: 34 minutes]

– Split the class into two teams.

One interesting way to do this is to have students raise their hands for “in favor” / “opposed” and have students argue the side they are against. 

– Run the debate

Assignment; Write Op-Ed Draft


Session 5:  Pulling Everything Together

A.  Partner Revision/Edit

Provide revision/editing checklist (or however you do it in class) and have students edit/revise 2 students’ papers.

Ask students to also include a double-positive-delta (two positive things about the op-ed and one suggested change).

Give students about 7-9 minutes per paper and enough time to dialogue about it.

B.  Personal Reflection

Take the same survey from day 1 (statements should be mixed up)

Have students compare and contrast and then fill out the following saying: “I used to think…, now I think…”

C.  Class-wide Reflection Sharing:

Have students crumple up the sheets, throw them into the room, and then given the amount of time, have the whole class read from a sheet they pick up or choose a few and have them read.

D.  Teacher Encouragement

Encourage students that this is a gray area issue and to keep wrestling with it.

Assignment: Op-Ed Final Draft

Report Card Comments

“I hope that he will continue to be a purr-fectly paw-sitive presence when he enters 5th grade” – is a sentence that I definitely put into one of my report card comments (he loves cats).

“Why does she read like she’s running out of time?” – is a sentence that I put into another report card (she loves Hamilton).

But I just wanted to include this whole comment that I wrote for another student of mine.  I feel so privileged to be able to write something like this; this girl was a literal rock star.

I can’t say that it was a joy to teach **** this year… because this year, I don’t think I really taught **** – she basically taught herself. She always went above and beyond in all subjects and did a great job in making sense of materials that I gave vague directions on (since she was ahead of the class), and constantly made positive choices.

Yet beyond her academic gifting and maturity, I really appreciated ****’s kind and patient nature. I know there were many times where her questions and needs weren’t met because I had to help other students, where she wasn’t called on to participate, and where she ended up with tasks that required trust but weren’t the most exciting. I really appreciate **** for taking this on and just helping me out as a teacher with her positive attitude and kindness towards others. It definitely helped keep the classroom mood light since **** was the friend that some of our students really needed.

I hope that if she learned anything from fourth grade, it is to take risks and to embrace mistakes. I hope that she won’t always be met with success but have some real challenges and opportunities to grow. Like I said, I can’t say it was a joy teaching ****, but I can say it was a joy learning from her and witnessing the power of her being in my class.

Here’s an excerpt from another one. I think this is amazing to witness in anyone, let alone a 4th grade boy..

As a person, **** is one of the most empathetic and kindest boys in my classroom. There are so many instances where he stayed loyal to a classmate even when his peers were not, and other instances, where he was understanding of students with special needs even when they offended him. He celebrates with his classmates and forgives easily. That is not an easy thing to do, and I felt blessed to witness that in my classroom this year.

A day in the life – told in pictures.

IMG_5885This morning, a boy delivered this awesome map that a parent at my school blew up for me on his architectural printer… it was beautiful. I enjoyed it for 90 minutes until a certain child, in his haste .. to do whatever, spilled it out of the tube, and pushed it out of the way and crumpled it. I yelled. I definitely yelled.. when I discovered it.  Even now, my blood starts to race a little.  He denied doing it. But later when I approached him and asked him to iron it, he said he would. And later-later, when I asked him how.. he told me it was an accident. The closest admission of guilt I’ll get.

This morning I opened a box from Amazon. Amazon usually never fails me. I got supplies through DonorsChoose!  And I was excited! Was going to put everything away for our art project. Unfortunately, the spackle had cracked and gotten all over everything and so I spent the morning cleaning off my hands and jacket.

IMG_5891I found this in my pocket when I got home. *sigh*  I have such big pockets. Pens, post-its, and pokemon cards. All in my left pocket. I leave my right pocket for my car keys, cell phone, and apparently, a crumpled up receipt.  There was a hole in that pocket, and I sewed it up. Unfortunately, I forgot to check if anything fell through that hole. I now have 1 binder clip, 1 plasticky thing, and 1 paperclip sewn into the lining of my jacket…


Ms. Kim is a FISH? 🙂

The boy who wrote this (yesterday morning) had a GREAT day today. We finally had a conversation with his mom yesterday. Good thing I didn’t find the note he wrote me until today… lol.  (Aside: I sent him out to write an explanation of his feelings with an aide. Now, I understand the need to help a child get out his feelings, but REALLY? As the adult, you couldn’t steer him to see beyond himself? smh).  He was upset on Monday because he couldn’t find his rough draft.  I suggested that maybe I misplaced it.  Then when we really couldn’t find it, he felt that I only cared about myself and that I hid the essay from him. (His words, obvi).  Honestly though, it must be so hard to be him.


IMG_5888To you this might look like a normal chair.  It did to me too. At the end of the day, I sat down so that I could do some mini-grading. As soon as I sat, there was this weird sound – like velcro. And when I got up, I realized that yes, some sticky substance was now on my butt.. because a bunch of sticky stuff was all over the chair.  Great.



But honestly. Today was a GREAT day. Besides the incident in the morning (what do you do about a kid who is extremely difficult and pretty smart?  Nothing much since their parents think that it’s your fault anyway.  Oh well!) where I yelled, things were really smooth. Thursdays are my favorites because they have dance in the morning and they come in really ready!

It’s kind of funny because our behavioral specialist came in to observe some of my kids at my request…. and everyone was SO WELL BEHAVED that… nothing stuck out. Go figure.

Some memorable moments from this week:

-C sidles up to me and I lean in so that I can hear him, “Ms. Kim, word in the halls is that you have some pencils up front?”   LOLLL

-I had a great convo with a parent who is now agreeing to get my student tested. (Previously – very adversed to anything that might apply to special ed).

-When kids were getting in line, one girl punched another girl and then went, “Oops!” and looked at me.  Baby steps!  I told her she had to hold my hand.  Then we walked down the halls, while I held her hand. Usually in elementary school, you know a kid’s in trouble when they’re holding the teacher’s hand. But this was a super big victory because in the beginning of the year, she wouldn’t even let me TOUCH her.  And I think she felt giggly about it. This girl makes my day… the most stoic, ornery, stubborn, little feather of a girl… she’s basically a cranky grandma in a little girl body. I love her so much.

-For some reason, one of my very bright girls has started to complain a lot but as a joke.  She gave me a backhug and I said with a straight face, “That better not be XX,” which then made another girl and another boy come over to do a group hug.

-Speaking of hugs, I got a few random ones today. and I am NOT a hugger.

-R ran out to recess with a fart noise maker. I was just super proud and impressed that he waited until recess to pull it out!!  He has been spending most of his recesses chasing people around with the fart noise maker.

-T kept trying out jokes on me from her new book from the library. I told her that if I didn’t laugh, she’d get in big trouble.  She kept trying to give me jokes. I kept not laughing and frowning more. I had a good time.

-4th and 5th graders LOVE getting excited about history and reading and etc. It’s really sweet.  There are definitely sweet moments.

– One boy hugged another boy with this deep, loving, eye-closed embrace ….. because the second boy was about to get a video game and the first boy was SO happy for him.  They’re my two loudest boys, but I couldn’t get them to be quiet in the halls because I was cracking up, because it was just so sweet (and ridiculous).  The second boy has a hard time getting along with people, so my heart was just warmed up to see the first boy hug him.



I’ve also had this pimple for a week now. It’s horrendous. It’s like all the pimples of the year decided to band together to become one pimplón. It’s ginormous. You can see it on my snapchat.