Sunday, December 14, 2008
Some of you know that I started blogging during my first year of teaching. Teaching kindergarten at a Title I school was (and is) a challenge and after coming home night after late night, consuming too much wine to dull the stress, and then dumping it all on my ever-patient husband, I discovered that typing out my experiences was incredibly therapeutic (and better for my liver and marriage). A co worker's blog inspired me to do my own. I posted the good, the bad, and the really ugly. Soon I discovered other bloggers were reading mine and I was loving theirs. Snippety Gibbet, Elbows, Knees, Dreams and It's Not All Flowers and Sausages just to name a few. Snippety's accounts of teaching art to Kindergarten continuously entertained me, especially when I could spot references to my own students in her writing (she's a coworker). I follow Elbows because she seems to have my exact children the year before I get them and reading about her experiences comforts me -- even the tough ones. Sausages is just darn funny. There are times I think she embellishes and other times I think not. Regardless, it's very entertaining.
As you can see, I have enjoyed blogging about the ins and outs of my day but lately it's been hard. I am totally consumed with prepping for maternity leave and trying to keep my mind focused on my 19 five year olds, and not obsessing about the 37+week babe sitting on my pelvic bone seemingly pushing its way out with each step I take. Sitting down to reflect on the day has taken a back seat - a far back seat on my to-do list.
I have 7 more school days left and trust me when I tell you that I want to be there for them. I am a planner and I am planned to be with my kids right up until 2:40 p.m. on 12/23. It's Polar Express Day after all and who would want to miss that?!
If my baby wants to come early on the evening of 12/23 -- please do. If he or she wants to wait until after the due date of January 2nd, that's fine too. But for now, I am gently pleading with this infant-to-be to hold tight and wait for me to get some closure with my kids.
So I think this will be it for the time being. You might see a post mid-maternity leave entitled, "WTF is happening with my kids?!" but in all likelihood I'll be back when I return to the classroom this spring. Thanks for reading, have a Merry Christmas (or whatever it is you celebrate), and I'll be back in a few months, hopefully with some interesting, "while I was gone you'll never guess what happened..." posts.
Monday, December 8, 2008
But now our school's calendar is on the chopping block and I am so grumpy, frustrated and downright mad. If you read my blog you know I work at a school where we are in session 11 months a year. During those 11 months we have 3 breaks called Intersessions. These Intersessions are optional for teachers to teach and students to attend, but most do and most do. Teachers get paid extra (always nice) and students receive remediation and enrichment courses. It's like an academic camp. It's awesome. I always taught the Intersessions and while my husband enjoyed the extra income coming in, I liked the new and changed atmosphere. Week long author studies, healthy eating classes, edible math -- to name a few of my favorites. Then when I became pregnant I used those breaks as needed breaks. I stayed home, slept a lot, planned for the next quarter and recharged. And yes, all of this costs money.
Outside of the Intersessions, our kiddos need this calendar. Our kids don't go to summer camp or on summer vacations when school is out. Many of them stay home, unsupervised, watching TV and losing all that they learned that year. They don't speak English, they lose that precious vocabulary they learned, they forget their reading strategies, and they forget about school. The unlucky ones are home all day to witness a tense household struggling in a faltering economy. Abuse happens. Neglect happens.
But when it comes down to it, regardless of the benefits for the kids, running a school 11 months out of the year costs money and there is little money to go around right now.
I don't like to oversimplify and play the victim, but our school is largely a bunch of poor kids whose parents don't have the time, the resources, the language, or the know-how to fight for them. Affluent and better-off parents from affluent and better-off neighborhoods are busy fighting their own fights for programs they don't want to lose. Why would they waste their time on a small number of schools full of kids they don't know? It's just not fair.
I would hate to be our superintendent right now, I know he's being pulled in a million directions and it unlikely able to make anyone happy, but right now it's about me and our kids, and I'm mad.
I am hoping that somehow, in the end of this mess, that we survive. Cross your fingers for us.
Friday, December 5, 2008
After the lesson my kiddos made their own U.S. Flags using paint and paper -- they were awesome.
At Choice Time today, one kid chose to color for her activity and got to work with paper and markers. After a few minutes she came to me and asked for tape. I gave her few pieces and she went on her way. When she asked for more, I asked her what she was making.
"A Pledge of Allegiance Hat."
Oh. Hmmmm... wasn't aware such a hat existed or was needed. I smiled and told her I thought that sounded really cool and sent her back to keep working.
Her final product was a paper ring with kids drawn all over it saying the Pledge. She made it for a classmate who wore it proudly. The lesson stuck! Rock on!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
That was 6 days ago.
Our registrar just emailed me to let me know that she's coming back tomorrow. We don't know the circumstances but they can't be good. This is a family with 4 school aged children and a toddler at home. They were sent to a new school earlier this year (ours), then pulled out to go to another, and now they are back.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I walked out of our building with a colleague and just as we stepped into the parking lot I heard a mournful yowl. Upon further investigation, it became clear that the sorrowful yowl was coming from the storm drain located exactly where the kiddos get picked up after school. There was a cat trapped down in the sewer. Or is it a storm drain? I'm really not sure where that big hole leads to except that I am constantly nagging my children to stay away from it or "you'll fall in the drain!"
Now, I am not a cat person, but if you have any bit of a heart, you really couldn't ignore this sad plea of, "heeelllooo!! I can hear you! Can you hear me? I'm sstttuuucccckkk and I'm sssaaaaadddd."
My colleague and I looked at each other and I think we thought the same thing, which was - really, if I left 5 minutes earlier would I be dealing with this right now? But both of us didn't make any attempt to leave. She got down on her belly on the cold pavement and when she couldn't see anything, she lifted the manhole cover! It seemed the cat was down very deep. What to do? What to do? All of a sudden she whipped out her blackberry and preceded to look for a cat rescue organization (who says teachers don't need a blackberry?!) While she took control I spoke to the cat reassuring him/her that it would be fine and not to go deeper.
Shut up all of you. I was helpful.
Then POP! This ENORMOUS orange tabby cat pulled itself out of the drain and began looking at us and yowling as if to say, "okay, I am out. Got any food?"
I immediately felt good about my passion about teaching my children self-reliance. Man or beast, it works every time.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Four friends came back to the classroom to have lunch with me and we saw snow falling outside the window. It made me happy and it FLOORED them. "Oh my goodness! Snow! Snow! Snow!"
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
This student complains that their head itches and has had their hair picked over by numerous adults wearing rubber gloves. Mostly it's done in private, but sometimes it's not. Their parent insists that the kid's hair is being washed with the shampoo but is neglecting to follow through with two other important steps. You need to physically pull out the unhatched eggs (ew, I know) and then wash EVERYTHING you own in very hot water. The shampoo is useless if that's all you're doing.
So day after day, this poor kiddo comes in with an itchy head and subsequently a nervous teacher. The student is bothered, embarrassed and sad, and my heart hurts for them.
I still remember my own elementary school nightmare. At our school the kids all sat at their desks while the school nurse (Mrs. Mann) went to each kid picking through their hair. If they didn't have "the bugs" then she moved on. If they did have lice, she stopped and wrote their name down. Well my name was written down. I was mortified. I think my mom was more mortified when she was called to come get me. That night I had my head scrubbed with that horrible RID shampoo and them combed through with that god-awful comb that rips out snarls and can still bring tears to my eyes.
Maybe my experience in elementary school is making my heart break for this kid even more. I just want to take them home tonight and take care of their lice right way -- and then send a cleaning staff over to their home so they doesn't get it again the minute they lay their head down on the pillow to sleep.
And yes... I feel all itchy.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
One dad was in jail for stealing a van, the other dad was in jail for pretending to have gun - but he really didn't have it. These accounts are according to a 5 year old mind.
One of the 2 parent kids has always seem to roll with her classmates' less-than-ideal home lives really well. She listens, she takes it in, and she moves on about her day. The other one... well... it's like a different world to her. So not to be outdone, this was her contribution to the story: "My aunt got a speeding ticket for going to fast. I don't know why she was going too fast, but she was." She had a very satisfied look on her face as if to say, "see? I have a story about breaking the law too." Then she changed the subject to Dancing with the Stars.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Any advice on how I can make sure they glue more onto the paper rather than stick them in their mouths?
Monday, November 3, 2008
Me: "Does anyone know what Election Day is?"
Me: "Does anyone know what it means to vote?"
Kid: "My mom is voting for Bark Obama." (Yes, she said "bark.")
Me: "Oh! Okay, so your mom is going to choose Barack Obama to be the next president. Does anyone know who else wants the job?"
Me: "Barack Obama and a man named John McCain both want to be president. So tomorrow your moms and dads will go and choose who they want!"
Kid: "My mom is voting for Obama."
Kid: "My mom is voting for Obama."
Kid: "My mom is voting for Obama."
(And then we had what I call a "kindergarten bandwagon moment" where hands went up simply to be part of the crowd).
Kid: "My mom isn't voting."
Me: "Oh, okay." (I chose to skip the lesson on who gets to vote and why simply because we have many parents who are not citizens and it would get very confusing. I left it as grown-ups vote, kids do not).
Kid: "My mom is voting for John McCain."
Silence. No bandwagon there.
Me: "Does anyone know who the president is now?"
Kid: "John McCain."
Me: "Well, he wants to be president. Who lives in the White House and is our president right now?"
Kid: "George Bush."
Me: "YES!" (I bet my 5 year olds are smarter than your average citizen!!)
Friday, October 31, 2008
... so it hasn't been TOO bad but the day has coincided with my decision to start cracking down on annoying behavior. So while I'm not wearing a witch hat, some may think I am acting like one!
It's a gorgeous warm fall day and my kiddos are outside for an extended recess except for one. He's in the room with me with his head down. "Maybe this will teach you a lesson my pretty..."
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Well. This time I did get my kids back, but after two weeks of relaxation bliss. My kids who had different (or non-existent) rules and routines for two weeks.
Holy comoly. Who are these children and what have you done with mine?!
I've literally been pulling my hair out this week whipping them back into shape. It's been like boot camp for Kindergarten (sounds fun huh?) Here is a sampling of the dialogue you might have heard in my room this week:
- "Please sit down. Please sit down. Please... sit.... down... HEY! YOU! SIT DOWN!"
- "Friends... (deep breath)... it's so very important for you to look at me when I am talking. Please do not make funny faces at your friend while we are learning...(deep breath)."
- "Please take that out of your mouth."
- "Seriously, don't put it on your mouth."
- "Are you a doggie that needs a chew toy?" (I know, this was mean).
- "Excuse me? Did you really just do that?!"
- "This is your last chance. If you behave the same way, you lose recess. The WHOLE recess."
Gah, I've been Viola Swamp. TGIalmostF.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Today Poor Spacey was sent to the bathroom first thing in the morning and another break was on its way yet Poor Spacey peed right in her chair. Big ol' puddle in the chair and on the floor. There was no sign of concern or discomfort and frankly I would not have noticed until I walked through it unless a kiddo told me that there was water on her chair. So there she is, just sitting in her own urine. When I quietly asked her if she had an accident, she smiled and said yes. Smiled? She seemed almost giddy when she went to the clinic with my IA to get cleaned up.
Clearly we have some issues to deal with.
Monday, October 20, 2008
8:50 a.m., right in the middle of morning meeting. Our registrar is lurking outside the door. She asks to speak to me. I know something is up because she doesn't usually need to speak to me in the middle of teaching. Well she has a kiddo in her office who is starting today. Ok, sure, of course, bring him down. What else could I say? "Um, no sorry, I am full."
8:55 a.m. said kiddo shows up with mom and mom's friend. Kiddo is crying hysterically and refuses to let me lead him into the room. I begin lots of soothing and back rubbing and assurances that I am not a monster and he will surely have a good time.
(Meanwhile, the special ed. teacher has taken over the calendar portion of morning meeting - thank you thank you thank you).
8:57 a.m. I finally drag, yes drag, this poor kiddo into the room and shut the door. He continues crying hysterically and lunging for the door.
8:57 a.m. Another child pukes on the floor.
8:58 a.m. My wonderful assistant is attending to the puking child, I am continuing to soothe the crying child and the special ed. teacher is wrapping up morning meeting and getting my kids ready to go to P.E.
What in tarnation* would I have done with all that help?! (*I am channeling my father with that term... I don't really know what it means but I heard it a lot as a child. I think he used it in replace of hell, but you never know with him.)
Have no fear, the puker went home and the crying child stopped just in time for me to realize he doesn't have a word on English under his belt. Only Urdu, and I am fresh out of English to Urdu dictionaries. At least he's smiling!
Friday, October 17, 2008
However, today, my last day of break, I hauled my kids interactive writing project to Staples to see about getting it made into a fancy book (as I had promised them). Now mind you, I did the same thing last week at Kinkos and left after I was told that it would cost me almost $60 to do. I love my kids but I don't love them that much. So I decided to head to Staples to see what I could buy to do it myself when I ran into my new bff Paula from the Staples Copy Center. Paula helped me put the first page onto poster board and then laminated each page in super-thick-teachers-will-love-it laminate and them bound the whole thing together.
(Could I have done this at my own school? Well yes, if our laminator actually worked. I'm tired of laminating things twice or three times with an end result that makes this OCD gal really flippin' cranky. Seriously, I spend hours of my life laminating and it just peels off the next day.)
AT ANY RATE, let's get back to the good news. The good news is that Paula did this whole project for me for $22!!! She rocks. I told her about Kinkos and she just rolled her eyes (I wonder if there is copy-center competition...)
So here is my kids' masterpiece. This is my first try with making a movie with my camera and posting it onto my blog. Bear with me. It took us about 5 days of Interactive Writing lessons to create and now that it's a shiny book we will use it for Shared Reading when we get back to school on Monday. Our AP and reading teacher are also going to come in so the kids can read it to them. Then after reading our book everyday this week for Shared Reading it will go in the Big Books We Know center for the kids to read by themselves in Reading Workshop. I love it when things come together!
Yay, I am excited to go back!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
- I've been known to drink pickle juice.
- I had a face to face encounter with a grizzly bear.
- I love to "window shop" online (I go to my favorite stores, fill my shopping bag and then leave without checking out).
- I hate using public bathrooms... not because of a germ issue, I just don't like people knowing I am going to the bathroom.
- I think tuna noodle casserole is one of the best meals ever created.
I hope no one was expecting to read anything deeper than this... this is it, this is me. Now I am going to go read what everyone else wrote!
Monday, October 6, 2008
I hope my kiddos do okay on their first day of Intersession*. Some of them will be fine, but I know some of them won't know what hit them.
* for those of you that are not familiar, Intersession is a one to two week period at the end of every quarter, usually in October, January and March/April, during which students are able to take classes that are interactive, creative, and fun! If students opt to go to Intersessions, they pay a nominal fee to participate in classes such as dance, arts and crafts, cooking, storytelling, newspaper writing, or astronomy! Classes providing extra help in reading, writing and math are also available. (In full disclosure, I took these words from our website, they're not mine!)
Friday, October 3, 2008
I try my very best to always keep in mind that most of my kiddos come from backgrounds that are literally foreign to me. Their families don't run on the same values and principles that I was raised with, along with my homogeneous upstate New York community. For example, my father taught me that 10 minutes early is on time. My mother taught me that you write a thank you note, for everything. These are just a sampling.
So it gets my undies in a bunch when I work really hard to communicate with families in their home language about parent conferences, and extend myself and my time to be as accommodating as possible, and I'm still blown off. One appointment after another... at least the translator that I arranged brought reading material. He knows.
Yes yes, I know I need to let it go. I know that. But this is my therapy and I need to vent.
P.S. My conference with Poor Spacey and The Pooper's parent went very well. Not only was I able to serve up a positive burger, it had a few tasty sides as well!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I often joke about how it is I got into teaching Kindergarten being OCD... neatness can be a struggle... order can be a struggle... constant rules and routines can be a struggle.
But, neatness, rules, order and routine are also an asset in a room of 20 five year olds. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.
I just met with a parent who gushed over how wonderful she thinks I am based solely on what I send home and how it looks. "You are so organized and everything is so clear. I love opening my child's folder and finding out what is going on in the classroom. You are the best teacher any of my children have had."
Now, I know I'm not the best... there are some kids who don't benefit from my OCD, but I can tell you that I felt AWESOME.
Can I get a sticker for doing a good job?
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I have mixed feelings about parent-conferences. On one hand, I fully support consistent and open communication about a child's progress, or lack thereof, with parents.
On the other hand, I am dreading a few meetings where I am struggling to come up with "the positive burger." have you heard of this? Think of a hamburger... the bottom bun is a positive about the kiddo, the burger is the negative, and it's topped off with a positive bun. That way the parent doesn't feel attacked and the teacher avoids focusing solely on the negative. The problem is, I have a couple of kiddos who are lacking a bun. I can feign a bottom bun, but a top one as well?! It's going to be tough. (And yes, for you curious Georges... Poor Spacey and the Pooper are on the list.)
While you might be thinking, "Geez, what a battle ax," you should know that I smiled and positived my way through conferences last year and I ended up with parents who really didn't understand their kiddos problems. I want to avoid this.
Tomorrow's goal - find the balance!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I subscribe to both. I believe in both. I would consider my classroom closer to the new school approach, but with some old school thrown in.
I'm slowly getting to the point of this post. Hang in there.
I was at a wedding this weekend in Boston and my cousin was telling me tales of his daughter's experience with Kindergarten. She will not be 5 until the end of October so they enrolled her in a private school. She came home one day and asked if their cat was nocturnal. He, being the funny guy he is, admitted to me that he wasn't even sure what that meant. She also asked about exoskeletons. She can now identify nocturnal animals and those with exoskeletons.
Now, the new school teacher in me responds with, "oh, they must be learning about ants and squirrels!" The old school teacher in me thought, "holy crap, who is this teacher who is teaching her 5 years olds about nocturnal animals and exoskeletons?!" I immediately felt inferior.
Tomorrow I am throwing out my plans to learn how many syllables are in our names and teaching cell mitosis and photosynthesis. I need to get my kids up to speed with this smarty-pants New England kids!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I captured all these wonderful moments on my digital camera. The pictures were great - really great.
And now they're mysteriously gone.
What a bummer.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Today there seemed to be a rash of kiddos turning around and then proceeding to bump into the person in front of them. After 4 reminders in a row, I launched into a mini-lecture about why we need to look forward. Just as I finished with the warning of, "it's just not safe to walk with your head turned around," I tripped over a chair left in the hallway. Newman. There was no way to save that one other than saying, "See?!"
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
"This is my brother getting an x-ray and here is my mom and the doctor, and my brother is not happy."
"This is my brother pooping out the magnet. He was happy."
Friday, September 12, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
During math I am the only adult in the classroom and I've just set up centers for the kiddos to work at. This allows me to sit with one table to take notes and assessments while everyone else is busy - and productively busy.
About halfway through math time, organized chaos walked in the door to deliver some pictures of toilets that my co-teacher was copying. Toilets you ask? Well yes. You see, The Pooper, while poop and pee free, still doesn't understand when to use the bathroom. So we are posting pictures of toilets next to the appropriate times. Unpack, snack, and lunch. 18 out of my 19 kiddos are able to stick to this schedule with the occasional emergency that I have no problem granting. I am confident that The Pooper will learn.
The number has actually changed to 17 out of 19, so let me bring you back to organized chaos's arrival into my room. After she dropped the toilet pictures on my desk she began circling around the tables on her way out and discovered a pee-colored puddle next to The Pooper's chair. But The Pooper wasn't in his chair, Poor Spacey was. I am unclear as to the conversation that Poor Spacey had with organized chaos but the result was that a) It wasn't Poor Spacey that peed, she was just sitting in it, and b) it was assumed that The Pooper had peed without alerting anyone and then moved along to another center.
This is when I got involved. We examined The Pooper's pants and saw that they were dry but I know what we were thinking - "did it just go right down his leg and onto the floor?" "Boys can do that right?" This seemed unlikely, but this is The Pooper we are talking about. We just assume it was he who had an accident. So we asked him in a variety of ways only to discover that this line of questioning was useless. A variety of one word answers were given - juice, water, his table-mate, etc. He had no idea what we were saying. The Pooper's poor communication skills and our confusion were a hindrance at this point.
Meanwhile, Poor Spacey had moved to another table and was going about her business as if her entire butt wasn't soaked in urine.
Finally I gave up, and asked organized chaos to take Poor Spacey to the clinic for dry clothes. The other children were swarming like bees wondering who peed their pants and I had pee to clean up (not to mention teaching math, but obviously that's secondary). I piled on a layer of paper towels and Clorox Wipes and got to work on cleaning up the mysterious puddle.
20 minutes later...
Because that's how long it takes Poor Spacey to put pants on...
And through questioning from organized chaos and our school nurse...
It was deduced that Poor Spacey peed in The Pooper's chair and then allowed him to be rolled under the bus. She said she didn't know she was doing it...
Friday, September 5, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Then I was filled in on her family background. Horrible. Just horrible. Horrible doesn't even describe what this poor thing has been through in just the few years she's been alive.
So I thought about what home must be like and if I were in her shoes how I would want my teacher to treat me. I had to realize that it's all negative at home. Every bit of it.
I decided I needed to smother this kiddo in love. From the minute she walked through the door to the minute she walked out I ignored the bad behavior and praised the good behavior. And guess what? Dur, there wasn't much bad behavior. There was over the top great behavior with amazing extras. She wrote a book - A BOOK! - in Writing Workshop. She wrote another book in CHOICE TIME. Most kids clamor for housekeeping or blocks and this one chose to write and she wrote a book on how she loves me.
I almost burst into tears.
I'll always be that fair-and-consistent teacher, it's the way I am programmed, but she helped me realize that it doesn't work for everyone, and sometimes all you need is love (everyone sing along!)
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
19 Kindergarteners and my wackadoodle body is not a good mix right now. I hope that in a few days I will acclimate to this because the idea of being in this mood until Christmas break is really depressing.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
W is for workday... wa, wa, wa.
Letters and sounds are all you need to keep this teacher calm as can be!
(My aplogies to Dr. Jean for butchering her song "Alphardy" but I am working on 11 hours sleep, a cup of Starbucks, and a whole day without the kiddos to get testing paperwork done... what a nice day).
Monday, August 25, 2008
- Four kids who couldn't even form a letter on the first day can now write their own name, and I can read it.
- All the kids know which table they sit at (this has been a struggle for a few!)
- Our routines have fallen into place.
- The tattling has subsided (thank goodness, I was losing my mind). Thank you to A Bad Case of the Tattle Tongue!
- My class spontaneously bursts into song at all points of the day -- snack, unpacking, waiting for the bathroom. It's awesome.
- I've only had one cold.
- Our Song & Poetry books are working like a charm (each song or poem we learn as a class is colored, cut, and glued into a notebook. The kids read them from memory).
- Being 5 months pregnant and teaching Kindergarten isn't bad! In fact, I am having a fantastic year.
- The pooper.
- Speaking of the pooper... The pooper, who hasn't had another incident since that frightful day, struggles with speech communication... so we're still having bathroom struggles. He insists on saying "pee pee" when he needs to go - and I force him to say "bathroom." Since it's 4 weeks in, we're also starting to enforce specific bathroom times - morning, snack, lunch, afternoon. He doesn't get this yet... he grabs his crotch and yells "pee pee" whenever the urge hits him. He might be a candidate for a name change.
- The All About Me book... clearly this was too much for them. So much for all that prep work (hours). Right now we are just focusing on the city and state they live in, and leaving their address and phone number to later in the year.
- My I.A.'s school duty. It's no secret that I don't want to share her.
- Writing Workshop is still a struggle. We read books and watch videos that make it look so formulaic and accessible. Then I try it ouot and it goes just sort of okay. Still working on this one...
- It's become evident that I have one specific kiddo who is very very very lost. The past 4 weeks have shown me there is a problem, now I have to figure out how to tackle it (and this isn't Poor Spacey!) The Lost One couldn't even match a picture to an identical picture today... it made the ABC activity very very difficult :(
All in all, my yays outnumber my hurrumphs and that's what matters. Here's to the next 4 weeks!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I very much appreciate his excitement and ta-daness about finishing a task... I think we all have a bit of that in us, but really, I hope the verbal expression of it is just a phase.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Back to Quiet Story Time - it's my favorite anyway.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Stupid me. I just whipped myself - and colleagues nearby - into a frenzy. What a waste.
I think I need sleep.
The problem with swapping it with Reading Workshop: we do Literacy Centers as part of our Reading Workshop and she runs one of them. The kids are up to doing 2 independently as well as one with me, and one with her. Eventually they will be able to do 4 or 5 on their own, but not for a few more months. I need her here.
The problem with moving it to the afternoon: If you know 5 year olds, and you know what they are like after lunch and after recess, I'll let you imagine my trying to get them to focus on writing. Pfftth.
So my challenge is to conduct Writing Workshop all by my lonesome. Problem is, I have half the class ready to put their stories into story books (drawn pictures on each page depicting their story) and half the class that should start on one page of paper working on how to take the idea from their head and draw it onto paper. I don't want to hold back the first half, but I don't want to rush the second half. My idea for group work might work if I can jump between each group -- while they stay focused (or I'll even take somewhat focused) on the task at hand. Best case scenario -- this works. Realistic case scenario -- it doesn't, let's not kid ourselves. Writing Workshop needs one-on-one, or at least small group, conference time.
Useless. Phlegm, snot, and germy coughs fly around my room.
No matter how many surfaces I wipe down with Clorox anti-bacterial wipes (I buy them in bulk) or spray my hands with Clorox anti-bacterial spray (I love Clorox), the germs find me.
So here I am, in August, sounding as if its in the middle of winter. Hack, hack, sneeze, sneeze.
I'm off to make some hot tea.
Friday, August 15, 2008
(P.S. I know it's not the best descriptive to use but it's nothing like I have seen before. It's not your typical lack of attention... there's something that's not firing. Now I'll be working with some of my rockin' co-teachers to get to the bottom if it...)
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I've been meaning to tell you for quite some time now that I am sorry for the treatment you have received in this year's class.
I am sorry that our big, well-meaning friend seems to stomp on you whenever he is near and all you get is a, "oooooooopppppsss....ssssooorrrryyyyyy...." I'm sorry that I make you stand close enough to the students to physically line them up, and open you up to unintentional stomps and steps. I'm sorry that I seem to put you right in the way of a falling can of juice (I know that one hurt), or a falling boy who tripped over his own feet. I'm sorry that you are so close to our curious friend who likes to touch and pet you when you are near (I know that creeps you out). I'm sorry that our friends have a knack for pushing their chairs right into you when I'm least expecting it (you probably expect it by now, don't you?)
Most of all, I am sorry that I only take you for a monthly pedicure... you deserve one much more often. You have a hard life right now and I want you to know it doesn't go unnoticed.
Monday, August 11, 2008
I smiled because I began to question what struggle I would prefer to have. Pre-school prepped kids with in-my-face parents, or, in my case, zero-prep kids and mostly absent parents.
Some days I would like to be in her shoes, other days, my own shoes fit perfectly. Sure, it's a struggle getting my kids who haven't ever picked up a pencil to catch up with my kids who are beginning to read (not to mention all those kiddos in between), but I think I prefer that struggle to convincing a parent that yes indeed, I know what I am doing. That might just get irritating after awhile.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Mix that with 17 excited 5 years olds... and kaboom.
Let's hope that we have a mellow day and I can put it behind me and crash into bed as soon as possible.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
So this little tidbit during our letter-of-the-week lesson brightened my day:
Question: "So friends, we have lemons, we have lollipops and we have lizards." What else starts with L?"
Answer: "Love starts with L."
Yes it does cutie-pie, yes it does.
Monday, August 4, 2008
1. Just because you have been to one school, at story time, and read to an overprepared-for-your-visit group of children for the fuzzy press release and nice photo op does not mean all schools are like that tiny little snapshot you witnessed. Everyone was on their best behavior, administrators included. Every school is very different, every classroom is very different. Don't ever make assumptions that you know what goes on in a classroom. Let us tell you.
2. My job is not "cute." Please don't say "awwwwwww" or think I am super-sweet when I tell you what I do. It's insulting. What if I said, "Awwwwww... making laws that affect my life is so ca-ute!" Think about it.
3. Please send your kids to public schools. You work for the public, you serve the public, you are paid by public funding, you make laws that affect our public schools, so please put your kids where your mouth (and vote) is. You might be surprised at what a great education they get.
4. Please leave our curriculum, best practices, test scores, benchmarks, etc. to our county and if you must, to our state. I'm talking to the feds here -- just give us money to build. I know your slang on the Hill is "bricks and mortar." We want that. Figure out how to build us a nice school! How can you justify getting money to repave a main street in a podunk town you might retire to while the school in your community has mold on the walls and kids are learning in trailers? Which leads to me my final wish...
5. For the love of God, stop tying education funding to property taxes. It's DUMB. Yes, I know Title I funding is supposed to even things out, but come on. When have you seen a "rich-kid" school in a poor community? Never. How about a formula that's based on the number of children in the school and some other factors like cost of living in the area. I'm not naive, I know there is more to it, but you guys are smart. You can figure it out. Please understand that when everyone is moaning about the housing crisis and home sales are dropping, that translates directly into my inability to provide materials for my kids. Was my stimulus check supposed to buy supplies for my classroom? Was it? Did you use yours to buy your bloated staff scotch tape? I didn't think so.
Wow, that felt good.
*My policy-maker was actually wonderful on the subject of education. I think he hated school as a kid and thinks all classrooms should be petri dishes for creative chaos and individual thinkers. I'm not on board with the creative chaos but I did always appreciate his understanding and perspective. My list is directed at the majority of his colleagues.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
"Please don't make me ask you again and again, sit down in your chair and wait for your name to be called."
My husband talking to me as the unruly wife:
"How many times do I have to ask you to turn the kitchen light off? I have to ask you again and again."
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
- Listen to our teachers.
- Always use our brains.
- Be careful with our stuff.
- Always take good care of each other.
If everyone lived by these rules, the world would be a happier place, don't you think?
*some gems that were combined under a broader idea:
- Don't poke people and make them bleed.
- Don't push someone down and make them bleed. (Sense a theme?)
- Don't bump people.
- Don't kick people on the carpet.
- Don't spit on people
You get the drift...
Monday, July 28, 2008
- Walk each student through how to unpack their backpack, where it goes, etc.
- Assign letters on our giant ABC carpet
- Read the Pledge of Allegiance big book
- Read our morning message
- Look at the calendar and discuss what day it is and the weather
- Read our schedule
- Sing the Hallway Song
- Go to P.E.
- Bathroom break
- Eat snack
- Read a story
- Add our names to our name chart
- Talk about our behavior chart
- Bathroom break
- Go to lunch
- Go to recess
We got through #1, #8, #9, #10, #12, #13, #14, #15 and #16. Not too bad!! Actually, now that I tally it up, it's pretty darn good. Granted, I only had 14 kiddos today so the day seemed a bit like a practice run... no way will that number stay where it is... but it was a nice way to ease into it.
Extra bonus: no tears, no bathroom accidents, and no lost children. Rock on.
Friday, July 25, 2008
I was talking with another teacher across the hall from me and we both laughed at how nervous we get on this day. She's been teaching for years while this is my second and we have the same insecurities. "Eeeek, will they like me?" "Will they like me more than their previous teacher?" It's like meeting your boyfriend's parents in a twisted way.
I'm looking around my room and see everything is ready to go --- caddies have new crayons and glue, names are on the cubbies, there isn't any clutter, and everything has found a home for the year (or at least the week). If only my brain was as organized and put together!
Year 2 has officially begun!!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
So today is the half-way point of Teacher Work Week and I think I am starting to get panicky. I have done a lot - really, but fear that there are some major things that I am forgetting and for some godforsaken reason, I have not made lists this week. Even as I type this my desire to make a list just isn't here. There is something wrong with the universe when I don't want to make a list. Could that be yet another perk of pregnancy? Joy.
So instead of the list, ideas bounce around my head and when the planets are aligned, one bounces to the front at the same exact time I am ready to start a new task. In all reality I have been bouncing from task to task without any order or reasoning and repeatedly forgetting brilliant ideas and focusing on tasks like rearranging my paperclip drawer.
For all involved, let's hope the list making bug bites me in the butt soon.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Total contentment. Why you ask? NEW SCHOOL SUPPLIES. Seriously, nothing makes me happier. In my former office-desk-job-life my boss and I loved the end of the year splurge at Staples. A fun new Post-It? A new type of pen? A personal laminator? YES! GET IT! Now I am a bit more responsible because it's my money that I am spending, but I still get a thrill. I found Post-It notes in SO many shapes and colors! Hooray!
My classroom is forming into a shiny, new, clean, wonderful space for my incoming kiddos to enjoy. They have no idea how excited I get creating this space for them. Where can I add more color? Ooohhhh that could be a cozy reading corner! If I sat here at this spot, how many cool things can I see from my seat? These are my guiding questions.
Not to mention I am an order-freak. I not only want my room to be a colorful wonderful spot for the kids, I want it to be functional and orderly. This takes time. This requires a few years of "woah, that totally didn't work." I have one year under my belt and I know that you can't put the housekeeping furniture anywhere near the bathroom (obviously 5 years olds are easily distracted, even when they're about to pee themselves). I know that the blocks have to be in a different part of the room as the gears (lest a turf war breaks out!) I know that no matter where I sit in the room my back shall not face anyone, ever. I wonder what lessons I will add to this list next year?
I wonder if Bravo could create a teacher competition for the coolest classroom? How fun!
I'm not really sticking to any point - possibly I'm high on the smell of new Sharpies. Point being, this is an exciting time and I am thrilled to be in the thick of it.
Brilliant move of the day? I put a STOP and GO sign on the bathroom door. Lesson learned from last year was that 5 year olds are terrible at knocking on the bathroom door, then listening for a response from within, then making decision to go in, or wait. Seriously, they can't do this. Let alone expecting the child on the pot to speak up loud enough for the knocker to hear. Hennyway...