Saturday, May 31, 2008

Duck, Duck, Goose!

I'm obviously having an "I HEART my husband moment." I'm finally looking at the pictures from our field trip to a local garden park. At the end of the trip we had run out of things to touch, feel and identify so we rounded up the kids for Red Light, Green Light and the old favorite Duck, Duck, Goose!

I had no energy to join in, but my husband did, and it was awesome.

Modeling Appropriate Behavior

You must always model what you want the kids to do. "Friends, if you can't keep your lips closed in the hallway, please make the blowfish face!"

I love my husband.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Final Countdown

There are 13 more school days left, and yes, I am counting down. I have loved my first year teaching and all the ups and downs that went along with it.

But I am done.

I am burned out.

I am struggling to come up with new lessons and ideas even though I still have 13 days of teaching left. But 13 days is a lot! We can get a lot done in 13 days! There is lots of learning to be done in 13 days! (Do you see I am trying to psyche myself up?!)

It's not working.

At least I have the Kindergarten picnic and Field Day to chop 2 of those days off. So I really have 11 days. And actually, 3 of those days are our half day Mondays so I guess I have 10 1/2 days left.

I can deal with 10 1/2. I can make 10 1/2 days of learning! It will be fun! It will be exciting! We can do it! We will do it! Ra ra sis boom ba!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Welcome to My World

It's not often that you get to bring your friends to your office and have them spend the day with you, but got to do just that on Friday. Over cocktails one night, my husband and our bff's thought they would like to chaperone one of our field trips. Sweet!

So my kids and the entire Kindergarten packed up and went off to a local garden park. My wonderful mother and amazing step-father also joined us so I had the best chaperone situation possible -- responsible adults whose company I enjoyed who would also listen to me.

It. Was. Awesome. I tried to pair each adult up with the perfect kids and I think I did a pretty good job. We gallivanted around the park looking, touching, smelling and having a grand old time. I couldn't believe how excited my kiddos got at - well, a tree. "LOOK! A TREE!" as we ran top speed over to see what kind it was. One of ESOL students demanded to know what everything was called and I could see her adding each new word to her brain dictionary. The woman bff was given three "it" girls and they stylishly and confidently explored the park collecting treasures in her sun glass case. Now that was sweet.

All the adults did great and I loved to see their strengths and their weaknesses with the kids. It was also great to share my life with them... they got to be in my classroom and my school and had the opportunity to really interact with the little beings I spend most of my waking hours with. One of the best scenes was the husband and the man bff playing duck, duck, goose with the class. Hilarious.

After the field trip they headed home and I planned a jam-packed afternoon with a movie, Popsicles and recess (whew!). When I got home we continued to talk and laugh about the kiddos. It was a great day.

Hmmmm... now do I get to go to their offices for a day? :-)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Non sequitur

We were having a conversation today about seeds and what they need to grow. My students were offering up, "dirt," "sun," "water," "don't bash them down into the ground..." (yes! they learned!) when one of my kiddos raised his hand. When I called on him he made big muscle arms and screamed, "LOOK AT MY MUSCLES!"

Alright then.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

High stakes testing... part II

As I am tallying scores I am momentarily elated and proud of the MASSIVE improvement my kids have made - especially the ones that needed heavy remediation. Then that moment ends when I see that they just missed the benchmark score.

Hurrumph. Who made up that score? Can I put an asterisk next to the almost-made benchmark scores?
*Made phenomenal progress. Very smart kid. Stupid scoring system.


High stakes testing... for 6 year olds

So it's nearing the end of the school year and I am spending most of my time in classroom testing. Testing... testing.. testing... the kids have become accustomed to not being able to ask me a question, show me their work, or even come near me when I have another student at my table. "Not now friend, I am testing." Poor kids.

Today they will have a substitute teacher so I can do even more testing in the comfort of the hallway.

These kids know they're expected to do well. They can see the difference between a check mark (correct) and any other mark (WRONG!). Some kids actually cringe when they see me write something other than a check mark. I try to reassure them that my notes are just for teachers and that they're doing a great job but they're too smart for that.

So here we are, giving our kids a battery of tests... one time asked, one-time response recorded. The results are sent along to their first grade teachers who may or may not even look at them. What bothers me the most (outside of the time it takes) is how the scores don't really reflect the kids' ability.

For instance, I have a kid who tests pretty well, but for a lack of an appropriate term, is a disaster in the classroom. He has mastered the one-on-one questioning about information disconnected from real life, but when he's asked to apply that knowledge he simply can't do it. I'm distressed that I have to send him on (it's his 2nd year in K).

Then I have another student who has simply blown me away with his progress. During Writing Workshop he makes letter-sound connections, stretches out his words, and is an active participant in all parts of the day. BUT, he's a terrible tester. When he gets one wrong, he gets nervous, then silly and bombs the rest. Sigh.

In both cases the scores for these kiddos do not reflect their true ability. Glad I am spending so much time administering it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's not you, it's me

There are some days when I feel very guilty because all I can think is, "these kids are flipping irritating today."

It's not them, it's me.

I suppose this happens from time to time when you share your daily space with 21 kids.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why do I get sucked into these things?

What Punctuation Mark Are You?

Hmm... this is incredibly, well, wrong. Maybe I should change my answers.

You Are a Dash

Your life is fast paced and varied. You are realistic, down to earth, and very honest. You're often busy doing something interesting, and what you do changes quickly. You have many facets to your personality, and you connect them together well. You have a ton of interests. While some of them are a bit offbeat, they all tie together well. You friends rely on you to bring novelty and excitement to their lives. (And while you're the most interesting person they know, they can't help feeling like they don't know you well.) You excel in: Anything to do with money. You get along best with: the Exclamation Point.

How many Kindergarten teachers does it take to put together an ant farm?

Turns out... it takes 5.

One to ask for help because she can't figure out why the sand keeps dumping out the bottom.
One to take charge and give directions.
One to remind us to put the ants in the fridge to numb them.
One to stand back and watch knowing something bad is about to happen.

And one to grab a container of dish soap to beat the living daylights out of escapees in the sink of the teacher's lounge.

Funniest moment all year long.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sort of Mom

I got a "Happy Mother's Day" balloon from one of my kiddos today (I do not have my own children).

When I told the gift giver how much I loved it he responded with, "you're a good mom so I got you a balloon."

Well, again, not a mom in the technical sense, but, I suppose, in the non-technical sense, I am very mom-like to these little ones. Every once in awhile one of them will slip and call me mom - and after I cringe on the inside, I firmly remind them that I am NOT their mother. I can however, see the confusion when I am often saying things like:
  • "Please chew with your mouth closed."
  • "Please wash your hands."
  • "Your paper-cut will be okay."
  • "Please take your hand out of your pants."
  • "Blow... blow harder... that's better. Now go wash your hands."
  • "Chocolate is not a healthy snack. Ever."

The list could go on and on... Happy almost-Mother's Day to all the actual moms out there!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Tribute to Moms

Question: "What do Mom's do?"
"They work"
"They cook"
"They take care of us"
"They love us"
"They shop"

Question: "Why do have Mother's Day?"
Answer: "To say thank you to Moms"

Question: "How can we say thank you?"
"Maybe buy a necklace from J.C. Penny's"
"Make a flower"
"Say I love you"
"You could buy her a chocolate candy of a heart"

Melt. My kiddos are so flippin' cute.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

We added more words to our Word Wall this morning and as we were reading them, we discovered:




I think adults can joke about the crazy intricacies of the English language but explaining them to 5 and 6 year olds, many of which don't speak English at home, is very very difficult.

My explanation, "Ah ha kiddos! That's the English language trying to trick you. Let's make sure that it can't ever trick you okay? Let's practice these words again and make sure that "to" doesn't trick you!"


Friday, May 2, 2008

Personal vs. Professional

My ideal plan was this:

Take Wednesday off for our house closing, go to work on Thursday, and then attend a fabulous professional development workshop with my colleagues on Friday. Two days out of the room is plenty but I prepped the kids well (reminded them about their previous experience) and wrote up my lesson plans early.


Our house closing was delayed by 7 hours and I emailed my principal in a panic asking for the next day off because we still needed to move, and frankly a shower and a fresh change of clothes was a tall order at that point. My princiPAL generously okayed my request and from the realtor's office I typed up lesson plans and emailed them to my colleague to print out. I spent all of Thursday knee deep in boxes trying not to feel guilty about being out of the classroom and subjecting my Instructional Assistant to another chaotic substitute day.

This morning, as I sat in my workshop I alized that because I didn't go to school as planned the day before I a) did not print out my already prepared lesson plans for today's substitute, and b) I did not have my laptop to send them to anyone, or to do my rather large grad school assignment due Monday.

I stopped by school after the workshop, after everyone had left, and my room is in pretty good shape. I was pleasantly surprised. Starting Monday, the professional will take the driver's seat and the personal will ride shot-gun, but quietly. I can always unpack in July.

Now I just wonder if my IA is still speaking to me.