Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Day That Things Went Wrong


Was it a bad omen that as I read Ramona the Pest during Quiet Story Time, the chapter that I stopped at was called The Day That Things Went Wrong?


Let's start from the beginning.


The day actually started really nicely. Today was the day that the cafeteria was serving a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Parents are invited to come and eat with their kiddos and the cafeteria is decorated as festively as a school cafeteria can be.


My kids did not make the traditional pilgrim hats that you typically see little ones making at this time of year. Normally we would have had the girls make the white bonnets and the boys wear black hats with a bright yellow buckle. Instead, following the guidance of an excellent teacher across the hall, we made historically accurate brown "felt" hats. My brilliant I.A. came up with the idea of squishing paper around each kid's head and then wrapping masking tape around and around. She then cut off the excess paper, the kids painted them brown and VOILA! (See the picture above).


Before our luncheon, we also took a brief trip outside for a leaf hunt and then came in to describe the differences between our leaves and to do some ol' fashioned leaf rubbings.


Doesn't this sound like a lovely day?


Well yes, it was, except for one nagging issue that was like a toothache. I have one kiddo who resents being told what to do. You tell her to sit down, she stands up. You ask her to put her work away, she takes out more work to do. I feel like this child gives me the bird with her eyes everyday. I have tried many methods of behavior management and they have all failed, and today, they failed HARD.


So throughout our Fall-O-Rama, this child sat out of activities glaring at me. I did my best to ignore it.


Then we got to the tipping point. After being reminded 3 times what her job was I asked her to sit out of an activity. She preceded to cry out loud (that "pay attention to me" cry) for 20 minutes. As she was crying she would inch her way out off the chair and on to the floor and then inch her way across the floor.


I was done.


I gave her two choices. Choice A - take a deep breath and settle down and sit in the chair as she was asked to or Choice B - go to the office.


Of course she didn't pick Choice A. We then entered into a dangerous dance of a frustrated teacher trying to physically move a child while the child has turned boneless (thanks Mo Willems) and screaming hysterically.


My I.A. was very smart and saw that this was going nowhere good and stepped in to diffuse the situation. Then I walked the kid down to the office, fuming. Mom says she does this at home all the time.... sigh.


So I am currently working on a behavior management plan that will hopefully make a difference but I am having a hard time shaking this resentment towards this kid. Who does she think she is ruining such a wonderful day? I'll shake this feeling off before I see her tomorrow, but right now I'm still fuming.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Self-Reliance

This post has little to do with my Kindergarten classroom other than that I was leaving it today when the following saga ensued...

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

It doesn't take much...

My kids have been irritating today... they all have some sort of contagious annoying bug. Constantly talking, rolling around on the carpet, arguing with each other. I had had about enough...

Then...

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!"

So cute.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Itchy

There are some days that I just want to take one of my kiddos home and give them the care and structure that they are so desperately needing. One of my students has had a reoccurring bout with head lice for over a week. This concerns me on two fronts. 1) It's clear that the parents are not being responsible and getting rid of the problem, and 2) If I get it, I am am out of luck because preggos can't use the shampoo.

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

Different Worlds...

4 friends earned the luxury (it still cracks me up how in demand this is) to have lunch with me. 2 of the kids come from single parent homes and 2 come from 2 parent homes. The reason for the single parent homes - in both cases - are because the dad is in jail. This is where our discussion started. They brought it up, not me.

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

J for Jellybean...

My kids have been building their own tactile ABC book since the beginning of the year. We're closing in on finishing it and this week they are making J and I. For the letter J I bought jellybeans for them to glue on to the paper.

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

Election Day Kinder-Style

Since the kids don't have school tomorrow, at calendar time we discussed Election Day and what that means. Here is how it went:

Me: "Does anyone know what Election Day is?"

Silence.

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?"

Silence.

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!!)