Tuesday, September 24, 2013

They Call Me Miss Streisel

A few months ago, I posted about all the reasons I knew everything would be just fine, despite how stressed out I was. I'm beginning to understand that "stressed" is just my natural state, and that it's convinent that my name is Jesye because then I can call my stressed, OCD, freaking-out alter-ego "Stressy Jesye" and it rhymes, which is nice :) At the bottom of that post there is a video called "Jessica's Daily Affirmation" (it's not me, I swear!) that pretty much sums up how I feel about my life right now. But seriously, life is great.

I've talked a little about school, but haven't uploaded any pictures or gone into much detail. Please prepare yourself for a picture-heavy post!

I really couldn't ask for a more welcoming, supportive place to start my career. First of all, the staff and administration are wonderful. I'm never going to be able to work any where else, I'm too spoiled now. The principal knew I was nervous about Curriculum Night on Thursday and made time earlier in the day to meet with me about it, and then was in my classroom within minutes after parents had left to see how it had gone. It had gone wonderfully! I had been so nervous that parents would be like, "What are you doing, you're like 12. Get outta here," but they were all supportive and really seemed excited about the year! I recieved a few emails the next day that made me so happy. This is truly my calling.

My first bulletin board of the year :) The kids wrote out their hopes and
dreams for the year on handprints they traced. 
Some of their goals

Most grade levels have pretty small class sizes; usually 18-21ish, tops. 

Somehow, I only have 14 students, and one has yet to come to school. So really, I have 13 students. They are the most adorable, sweet group in the world. It's awesome having such a small class, and it really lets me have the chance to get to know every student. There is one little boy from Ecuador (he calls it Equator), a girl from Greece who has also lived in Romania and Serbia, a boy from Korea who is adorable but basically speaks no English at all, and a sweet little girl from Russia. I think the boy who hasn't been to school yet is from either Pakistan or Egypt (I've heard both).

The rest of my students are Italian. Most of them speak English pretty well, but it's funny how difficult communicating phrases or ideas I take for granted are. For example, one of my little boys was trying to explain to me about a "marmotta" he had seen and the way he described it made it sound like a chipmunk. I looked it up later and it was just a marmot, but for the rest of the story, every time he'd refer to the animal he'd say, "And thees uh, 'cheepmonk'," in his cute little Italian accent, putting 'cheepmonk' (with an o, not a u) in air-quotes each time he'd say it. Too funny. I'm supposed to enforce an English-only policy, but at times I let my little Ecuadorian boy use a word in Spanish and teach it to him in English, and the kids sometimes need to ask each other how to say something in English and speak in Italian for a minute before figuring out how to say what they want to say.

I had heard that there is a honeymoon period with teaching where the kids are super well behaved and respectful for the first week or two, and then all hell breaks loose. I had the opposite experience. Because I went into this thinking no one would take me seriously or respect me as professional because I look young, I decided to be super upfront with an "I have nothing to hide" attitude. I thought, I'd tell anyone who asked what I'd done before that I had just gotten my Masters and worked with third and fifth grade. If they pried deeper, I wouldn't hesitate to say that it had been student teaching, but I wouldn't just offer up the information. So when my students asked how old I was, I was pretty straightforward with them and told them I was 23. One of my little girls jokingly asked if I was sure I wasn't in high school, and I laughed it off but then that became something the kids said over and over and over (and over and over) again for dayyyyyyys. I'd say no, and they'd say, "But are you sure? Are you really sure you're not?" Yes I'm sure, now shut up! Really though, when parents, students, and other teachers ask me, "Are you a teacher or a student?"... grrrr. Kanye understands. It became such a problem that I actually had to sit the group down and tell them they were never ever allowed to ask about my age again. Ever. It was a rule. Since then, we really haven't had any issues! Wonderful, sweet little kids.

The atrium of my beautiful school

Outside of my classroom, the school is just as amazing. 

The teachers I've met have been so welcoming and helpful, and as I've said before the administration is great. On the Friday of our first week back, there was an after school celebration in the cafeteria for finishing our first week. Ok, sounds nice, party in the cafeteria. Except instead of just chips and dip with some diet Coke as I'd expected, there were different cakes, pastries, hor d'ouervres (including smoked salmon), and a few different types of wine and champagne. And if he couldn't get any cooler, the principal came over to our table to tell me and some of the other new teachers about where you could fill up empty wine and olive oil bottles on tap in Opera. Wait, what? Wine and olive oil? On tap? Only Italy.

Doesn't get more rewarding than this!

It's such a rewarding job. 

My kids make my day with letters they write me during Work on Writing time, journal and blog entries about how they don't have a favorite part of the day because it's all so fun,  and they've even started leaving me little gifts. One little girl left the cutest bookmark on my desk because I used a Post-It note to mark the place in our read-aloud, and when I told some students that had borrowed books on dinosaurs from the library that I loooooved learning about dinosaurs and Jurassic Park was my favorite movie, one little guy brought me some dinosaur stickers the next day. I'm so happy. I don't know how I'll ever teach anywhere else, because I don't think there could be a better school and I don't think this is the norm.

Just signing my life away...

The other day I had to go to the Questura to have some paperwork filled out for my work visa and when I got back to the classroom the kids literally attacked me with hugs and said to never leave them again (off topic, but going to all these meetings and signing all these papers in Italian is so stressful. I could be selling myself into slavery and wouldn't know the difference. I'm like, "Oh sure, I'll sign these contracts that I have no idea what they say. Why not?!"). It made my day though, knowing that they liked going to school and liked having me as a teacher!

Call me Miss Streisel. Or Khaleesi.
Either's fine.

Again, I just have to say...


If you think I'm being random, seriously go watch that video . So good.

And now for some pictures! 

Well... I've already showed pictures, but for the classroom tour!

This is what I walked into... Gulp! So much was there, but there was just an unbelievable amount to do in such a short amount of time!

Classroom view from my desk... I moved the smaller (still huge!) taller bookcase all by myself wootwoot!

My desk with our schedule and job chart

The Writing Center, our class rules, and the Morning Message

We started our poetry unit... the posters are our "Poet-tree" and the Poetry Battle Bracket

My reading area and Daily 5/CAFE board!

I love all my storage space! The Word Wall is on the cabinets; every time there is a new vocabulary word,
the kids add it to the wall. 

View from the door. You can see our Morse Code names in the back! 
I love my classroom :)

The class library. I brought over so many books!

Classroom view from the library!


  1. Jeyse!!! This looks so great! I am so so happy for you! :) your classroom looks amazinggggg! I totally get what you mean about not wanting to work anywhere else! These international schools have got it going on! Is your school an IB school? Also, how's it going learning the language??? :) ps. thanks for the inspiration to update my blog, I really gotta get on that :p

  2. Jesye! Your classroom is amazing and I love all the books you have! Do you do the responsive classroom? I'm getting that from your hopes and dreams and morning message a little bit... Hope everything is going really well, but judging by all the pictures and everything it really is. Love and miss you!!

  3. Congratulations Jesye on a wonderful start to your teaching career! Love your enthusiasm and I'm sure your class does too.