Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Worst idea ever...

... so my kids have been having, shall we say, whole group behavior problems. Some have blamed it on the weather, some have said it's because we're nearing the end of the school year, but whatever it is, it's really annoying. So I borrowed a great idea from another Kindergarten teacher and made a flower and lady bug. For each good thing the class does the lady bug goes up the flower (cleaned up quietly, said the Pledge nicely, etc). When the ladybug gets to the top of the flower the kids get to choose from the list of "goodies" written on the flower petals. Here's what I wrote on each petal:

Race to the fence (sometimes they just want to run)
Extra Choice Time
Extra Recess

I was struggling to come up with two more, so I wrote:

Lunch with me
Song and Dance (no one will ever pick this but I ran out of ideas)

WELL, the ladybug made it to the top and they picked lunch with me. Newman. I was banking on recess.

Ew, ew, ew.

If you have ever eaten with 21 5 and 6 year olds you know why I said, "ew." My co-teacher who takes a small group to lunch everyday knows exactly what I am talking about. Food flies out of mouths, lunch is on the face more than in the mouth, and kids mix up the NASTIEST combinations of food. Today a kiddo was dipping their carrots into ketchup.

We all ate out lunches and they thought it was incredibly neat (like they've never seen me eat before?!). I sent them on their way outside for recess.

Then I bagged the trash, scrubbed the classroom and opened the windows to get rid of this smelly experience. Let's hope that next time they choose something else. A new flower will be made for next year.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Kindergarten Orientation

Today was my very first Kindergarten Orientation. What a trip! We had a record turn out and all three available classrooms were stuffed to the gills with parents of all backgrounds. I had two observations:

1. I found myself differentiating my presentation for the parents about differentiating. There were some parents who were unsure that we would meet the needs of their very bright little ones -- to those we assured them that we teach to the level of each child. We used terms like, "one-to-one match," "literacy skills," and "further develop each child's ability." We want them to know that we know what we're doing. Then I had to speak to the parents who don't speak English, and who are nervous that their child doesn't either. "We full expect some children to enter Kindergarten without knowledge of the English alphabet, you know, their ABCs." Everything was said, hopefully, with a relaxed and assuring smile. "Bring us your little ones my friends and let us do our magic." Oy. Just like I am reaching all the kiddos in my room, I hope we reached all those parents.

2. A few of us witnessed parents griping at each other in the registration line. "Hey! You can't cut the line!" The apples do not fall far from the trees.

I can't wait to see who ends up in my room in July!

Yikes

When I saw this headline on washingtonpost.com, When Young Teachers Go Wild on the Web, I thought that the article would be about blogging (and for a split second mentally reviewed my blog)... wow, was I wrong.

Granted, when I was fresh out of college I was not a teacher, but I also did not have a website that was inappropriate. What bothered me the most are the comments from the teachers that didn't think it was a big deal and that it's separate from their job. Good grief.

I have a bad case of the Mondays

Sleepy... preoccupied with our house closing (coming up soon!)... chilly... wish I still had my flannel jammies on... heating up water for hot tea and oatmeal... grad school class tonight... it's days like these when I wish I could just call in "sick" and watch TV all day and have tomato soup and grilled cheese for lunch.

It doesn't help that one of my kiddos is out this week because he's on vacation in Aruba with his family. Aruba. Warm, sunny Aruba. I'm jealous of a 6 year old.

It's days like these that I know I'm really looking forward to that month off this summer!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Reality Check

Much, if not all of my blog, is about me and my reactions, thoughts, and feelings about my day. Admittedly, it is my platform to vent and/or shout from the rooftops. Me, me and more me.

This link however, reminded me that it's always bigger than me. It's about them. Always.

Paw Print

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This should not have amused me... but it did.

While I was part of a planning day yesterday it seems that my lovies wreaked havoc on the less-than-capable substitute, my very capable IA as well as our P.E. teacher. I was horrified. Absolutely horrified. We had a class meeting first thing this morning and I let them know how unhappy I was. They were silent until one kiddo piped up with "we're sorry." Um, yes you are my kiddos. The punishment? For the kids who managed to stay on a green card they lost half of their recess. The kids that were on yellow and (gasp!) orange, they lost their entire recess. The latter half were all boys (surprise, surprise).

I walked out on to the playground at the beginning of recess and had to hide my smile at the pathetic display. 21 kiddos sitting side by side on the railroad tie looking very glum while their peers were having a grand ol' time on the playground. After 10 minutes, we released the better-behaved children and moved the posse of substitute-abusers to the wall. 3 feet between each of them, standing up, no talking, no moving. They hated it.

I will be out of the room for two days next week so that will be the test.

Bwahahaha.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Earth Day Tidbits

So we began to talk about Earth Day this morning and the conversation took a turn to, "okay... then if the Earth is sick, how can we take care of it?"

Answer: "With hot soup and tea."

Melt.

Friday, April 18, 2008

E-i-e-i-o


So we packed 120 kindergartners into 3 buses today and headed out to a farm park to see cows, horses, pigs, etc. What fun! There were a few bumps along the way but all in all, it was a great day.

This picture gives an idea of how chickens can excite the heck out of a person. Luckily this was not a petting farm since one of the boys in the picture screamed, "I'm gonna eat that chicken!" over and over and over... I think my lesson on where our food comes from sank in a little too deep. TGIF.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I am my mother

First let me say that I adore my mother so this post is in no way a slight against her, but today I did something that I clearly remember my mother doing: using the full name, in a yell, with scary eyes (I used to really push my mom's buttons).

Picture this:

One boy (why is it always the boys?) who, despite his adorableness, constantly is doing something he shouldn't be doing, lays his entire body on top of a table while he should have been building patterns. It looked like he was imitating Superman with the table as support. Before I could get his name out of my mouth, my Chinese-only-speaker sees him do this, obviously thinks it's fun, and hops up on the table, on all fours. In my head I screamed "WTF!"

Aloud, from across the room, I scream the Chinese-only-speaker's American name (which he still doesn't really respond to). My entire class, including my wonderful IA and wonderful mom who was in volunteering froze. My eyes were blazing. Both table climbers looked at me with fear -- a look that you honestly don't want to have a child look at you with. I lowered my voice and with clenched teeth I told both boys to go change their cards.

Then I pulled the instigator aside and explained to him that his Chinese friend simply copied what he was doing and that he needs to set a good example. I got a blank stare. Then I tried connecting it to his little brother at home. "If you do something bad, does your baby brother do it too?" He responded that yes that happens and it's funny. "But do you think it's funny here?" I know he only shook his head no because that's what I was looking for. I gave up.

Maybe I should have asked why he was laying on top of the table. Hot lava? His feet hurt? He was tired? Patterning is really really boring? He really was being Superman? Coulda, woulda, shoulda...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Men

My kiddos were working in pairs today on a puzzle about farm products. For example, one picture would be of milk and they needed to match it to the picture of the cow. Everything was running smoothly when I overheard that whiney, "no, it's MMIIIINNNNEEEE!" screech from across the room. My skin crawled, my eyes blazed, and I looked over to see two boys, each with their finger on the cow puzzle piece. I walked over and immediately (preemptively) put up my hand (that's the stop-talking-I-don't-want-to-hear-it sign). I told these boys that they seem to have a problem and I was not going to solve it for them, but I was going to stand at their table and wait for them to solve it.

For seven minutes (yes, SEVEN), both boys sat at the table with their finger on the piece, tugging it back and forth. Seven minutes for a kindergarten boy is like a full day for an adult. I couldn't believe it. What stubbornness! After about 5 minutes I had to hide my "men are so ridiculous" smile.

Finally, one boy lifted up his hand and allowed the other boy to put the piece together. I showered the hand-lifter with lots of praise about being a good friend and making a great choice. My praise didn't seem to do much good because he didn't seem happy with his decision at all. He was quite grumpy, but at least his hand was free to do other things.

Men. Jeez.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A case of a cranky photographer

My lovies and I have been fairly giddy all morning in anticipation of our first picture day. I put on a skirt (this never ever happens because I sit on a rug for most of the day) and my kiddos fancied up their clothes and their hair. Side note -- giving 5 and 6 year old boys hair gel is so much fun. I can't tell if the boys did their own hair or if they had help, but the end result is awesome.

When picture time came, we cleaned our faces, lined up from tallest to shortest, and proceeded to the gym.

This is where the fun ended (and ironically when we wanted the children to smile).

The photographer gave us unclear directions and then yelled at us when they weren't followed (yes, "us." I was yelled at too). If a child moved an inch from where they were placed they were barked at. The photographer obviously doesn't know that if you want a Kindergartner to stay in one place you need to give them a visual - x marks the spot. Finally all 21 students and 2 teachers were frozen where they should be, terrified of moving a muscle, and he says, "Now smile! 1-2-3 cheeeeeeeese!"

I'm not optimistic on how this picture will come out.

I think I might take another group picture when we're having fun and send one home with all the kids. At least it will be a positive memory for them.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cheap Laughs

Today I watched a small 6 year old boy take out a full grown adult -- much like a puppy did to me when I was younger. This boy jumped up from his chair, knocked over our special education teacher, and raced to the bathroom. My co-teacher was on her butt and her goldfish crackers were all over the floor. It all happened in 2 seconds.

I write about it because while it was very important to remain serious and have the boy apologize for his actions, I was peeing myself laughing (on the inside of course) because I've never seen an adult be laid-out like that. I'm actually still smiling about it.

I'm sorry for being entertained by my co-teacher being on her butt - but if you saw it happen, you would have laughed too.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Birds and the Bees

Do you remember this little ditty?

Matt and Lisa sitting in a tree,
K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
First come love,
Then comes marriage,
Then comes Abby in a baby carriage.

WELL. This is what transpired at lunch today:

"Bobby" and "Julia" sitting in a tree,
Having sex.

Ummmm.... great.... that was a fun whole class discussion. "We don't talk about what moms and dads do here in Kindergarten. If your friend is talking about IT, don't tell another friend, just come and tell me."

I also spoke to the accused ring leader of the sex talk. By the way, this child is one of my sweetest, most adorable little kiddos who work very hard. He was terrified and after I assured him he wasn't in trouble I tried to find out if he was watching it live, watching it on TV, or talking about it with bigger kids. He gave me nothing. "I came up with it in my brain." Ah yes, of course. I reiterated that we don't talk about sex (I used the word with him because it's his new favorite) in school unless he is worried about something and needs to talk. Then he comes to me. Not to his pals.

Oy vey.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Separation Anxiety

It was so great to have all my lovies back in my room today. I felt warm hearted as each kid had something new and exciting to tell me. One kiddo wrapped her arms around me and said, "I was really missing you..." MELT!

It's made me think of the end of the year. Since this is my first year I have no idea what to expect but considering how much I adore my kids now, seeing them leave is going to break my heart. I suppose this is something you learn to deal with as the years go on.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

In case of emergency...

It's days like these when I wonder where I find the patience. I must have an extra supply hidden somewhere that is released in case of emergencies. Like today.

Today we read The Napping House by Audrey Wood. She is a wonderful author and writes wonderfully silly stories and her husband illustrates them with equally wonderful pictures. That's where the wonderful-ness ended. After we read the story and talked about our own napping houses and I modeled (painfully slow) how to use watercolors, SOME OF MY CHILDREN DECIDED TO PAINT THEIR TONGUES.

(Insert my inner-voice screaming a phrase that sounds like, "ARE YOU TRUCKING KIDDING ME?!")

I told them they ate poison.

The well-behaved children that acted like sheep and painted their tongues shrunk in horror. They might be at home now wondering if they will survive the night.

The punks that instigated the experiment are still showing off their blue and green tongues to anyone who will pay attention.

Tomorrow is the last day of Intersession. Thank trucking goodness.

bang... BaNg...BANG

That is the sound of my head slamming against the wall. Why you ask?

I just had to explain to the boys in my class that dunking your head under the faucet in the bathroom and then sticking your dripping head directly under the hand blower was not a good choice.

I'm such a fun sponge.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Reflection on Intersession

We have completed our 7th day of Intersession and have 3 more to go. For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept, Intersession is one of 3 mid-year blocks of time when it is optional for students to attend school and optional for teachers to teach. Most kids attend and many teachers teach. Kids get all mixed up and go to morning and afternoon classes taught by teachers. Topics vary and are always fun and a nice break from the regular curriculum. We continue to focus on grade appropriate skills but it's done in a way that's like camp. It rocks.

For the official description, go here.

This is my 4th Intersession and I'm still going strong. I did however, discover something today that I dislike about Intersession. It's very hard to gauge the ability of your 40 kiddos (20 in the morning, 20 in the afternoon). This wasn't a problem during the 1st and 2nd Intersessions because you are still in the early learning stages (especially in Kindergarten). By the 3rd Intersession though you expect your kids to be at a certain level.

I'm not describing the normal wide range of abilities that all teachers expect and differentiate for... these kids you spend all day with and have a natural rhythm of working with all the levels. My problem was with the wide range and not knowing exactly where the kids were, what kind of assistance they needed, and what kind of support they expected. These aren't my kids and today was hard.

Admittedly, the activity could have been done in my own room with my own kids but it could have been a reach with a classroom of unknowns. Lesson learned.

I still heart Intersession. Always will.