Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Released!

I had a training to attend this afternoon and because our county is so big they made start time later than normal to ensure everyone made it on time. The training was less than 15 minutes away from my school. The substitute showed up for the half-day at 11:20, I departed at 11:30 and found myself with a bit over an hour to kill.

B-L-I-S-S.

Guess what I did?

I went to Borders AND BOUGHT BOOKS!
I went OUT TO LUNCH!
I treated myself to AN ICE CREAM CONE, in the MIDDLE OF THE DAY!

I found myself among those normal professionals... those people who get to leave their office if and when they please, those people that can soak up the sunshine during work hours, those people that talk with other adults over a leisurely lunch.

Wow. It was nice.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'll admit it...

...I'm a big fan of school cafeteria chicken nuggets. I'm not ashamed. Any other caf-foods you're willing to admit enjoying from time to time? Hmmmmmm?

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Real Resume

I was memed by organized chaos this weekend... yep, she gave me homework (but I still love her). The assignment was to share what my real resume would look like, not the one I would submit for employment, but the one that gives a true sense of my talents as a kindergarten teacher. So, here we go.

Strengths:
  • Able to foster real or fake excitement (they look the same) over anything from a new baby sister to a story about playing Mario and not dying. In their eyes, that's equal excitement.
  • Able to make a rainy day into cozy reading time and still align it with my states' standards.
  • Able to maintain a straight, non-gagging face as flatulence fills the air.
  • Able to help child who has never held a pencil write an entire book on sharks, all by themselves.
  • Able to give gentle reminders to pee in the pot, not on the floor, as if I am reminding them to push in their chairs.
  • Able to discuss all toileting issues with ease.
  • Able to sing The Ant Song, The -Ing Song, The Five Senses Song, The Yellow Song, The Red Song (you get the picture) year after year with as much gusto as if I am singing it for the first time.
  • Able to teach a child who reads on a 2nd grade level and a child who doesn't recognize their ABC's in the same room, at the same time, with the same lesson, at each of their levels. It's called differentiation but I call it teaching.
  • Able to accept sneak attach hugs without shock or surprise.
  • Able to wear a pink sparkly princess sticker on my shirt all day long without batting an eye. It's a gift after all.
  • As colleagues have mentioned, able to hold my pee for 8 hour or more.
  • Able to get excited about 2+2 and 1+3 and spread that excitement to a 5 year old.
  • Able to tell when a 5 year old has behavior issues or a learning disability, or a mixture of both.
  • Able to smile politely when people who meet me say, "awwwwwww" when I tell them what I do.
  • Able to spend 8.5 hours a day in a room built for people half my size.
  • Able to sit on a rug that has been bled, peed, pooped and vomited on without ever being properly cleaned without a problem.
  • Able to understand how important a sticker can be.
  • Able to find a rhyming word for ANYTHING.
  • Able, after a learning curve, to come home to my husband and not talk to him like he's 5.
  • Able to take a child who used to pout when we had independent reading time to a point where she begs for new books.
  • Able to talk for hours about the importance of play; and...
  • Able to talk for hours about the importance of Reading Workshop and Writing Workshop.
  • Able to get up every morning, no matter how tired, and put on a smiling face for 21 five year olds.

Weaknesses:

  • Vomit. I don't do vomit.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's not just an American problem...

I was reading The Economist this morning, skimming the pages catching up on worldly events, "Hey sweetie, did you know they are banning the burqa in France?!" when I ran into this article.

The content was not all that interesting (Sorry Economist, you know I love you...) it was about one political party's desire to reform education, what has been tried, what hasn't worked, and how test scores have been affected. If you read one of these, you've read them all. Politician makes decree -- parents comment -- before and after test scores are graphed and analyzed -- public vs. private control is debated -- end of article.

Guess what is always missing from these articles? The classroom teacher's perspective. I know I use this blog to whine about how teachers are often ignored by politicians during the education debate, but I have yet to see an example of how we are not only involved, but actually given an equal seat at the table. Instead, I feel like teachers are looked upon as the army that will implement the policies they had little voice in forming, yet are held directly responsible for them when they fail.

Ask a teacher how she would reform education, I bet the story would be different.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Queens of Gossip

I would argue that the best gossipers are teachers, and the best environment for gossip is a school. We are quick, efficient, and excited to spread news. We rule at this. The school is made up of hallways filled with doors, with new ears behind each one. If the next person isn't in their room, you can grab them in the hall.

Some exciting gossip was made known this afternoon and I am not lying when I say it spread like wildfire, or it spread like a great game of telephone, through the entire school.

The gossip is good, like "guess who kissed who" kind of stuff, so I can smile as I type this.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!

This morning, at a hastily called staff meeting, our principal announced that she was leaving. A loud collective gasp quickly followed with murmurs of "what?!" and "no...."

This is not an exaggeration.

While she was explaining her departure (nothing tragic) tears sprang up into eyes all over the room. I've only been here three years but that didn't take away from the enormous sadness that weighed on my chest and trickled down my cheeks. I can't put into words how much this principal means to this school, but I am sure my colleagues will be posting something eloquent over the next few days. Sometimes others just say it better.

I can speak to what she means to me. Personally she has been my professional rock (no offense to my husband, my boulder). During my first year she gave me her no nonsense support that I desperately needed. She tackled problems with speed and practicality. Loved that. My second year she helped me find my way through maternity leave and what I like to call "maternity return" (harder than the leave). My third year she gave me the support and confidence I need to be a team leader without feeling like it was too soon or I was too green. She handles everything with a no-nonsense-let's-get-to-the-point approach that I love.

She is a cheerleader who doesn't need pompoms and she can comfort without a hug. Not many can claim those talents. Sigh, and now she's leaving.

To cope, I am attempting some humor by approaching this using the five stages of grief.
  1. Denial: GASP! WHAT?!?! NO NO NO NO NO!
  2. Anger: How dare she hire me and then leave after 3 years. She can't leave. She should stay here until I decide I should leave. She can't do this to me.
  3. Bargaining: What if we work out a telecommuting arrangement? How about discipline cases are sent somewhere else, like the equipment shed? Will she take a bribe? Can we beg?
  4. Depression: How am I going to go on............
  5. Acceptance: Sigh. Fine. Leave. I know, I know... this is a good move for you. You will be happy. The timing is perfect. I am happy for you... I am, really I am.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Playing on Fears

I'm not going to lie and say that I don't lie to my kids if I need to make a point. Funny that Organized Chaos just posted about the same subject but for a different reason. I am not a cuddly kindergarten teacher. Not a big hugger. I firmly believe that kindergarten students need to learn to man-up and learn how to zip their coats, open their snacks, put their straw in their own Capri-Sun, and for the love of God, TIE THEIR OWN SHOES. You will very rarely see me tying a student's shoe. I learned it, so can they.

Today, one of my brightest students asked me to tie their shoes. This kid thinks they are too smart for kindergarten and reminds me of this feeling almost daily. So I had fun with this one. We happened to be walking past the library where a favorite first grade teacher was and I popped in with a simple, "hey, can I borrow you?" (Funny now that I think that's how I asked her for help when she was in the library, ha!) Without question, she followed me out into the hall while I told my kids, "So, you remember our first grade teacher don't you? I was just telling her that some of my kindergarten students don't know how to tie their shoes! And do you know what she said?"

Well, let me tell you, she ROCKED THIS. She went on and on about how first grade teachers NEVER EVER tie shoes. In fact, she would be shocked to have a student in her class who couldn't tie their shoes! She said if your shoes come untied in first grade you have to ask a friend or walk around all day with untied laces, "and we all know how dangerous that is!" She told them they all had to practice over the weekend. My bright one could barely make eye contact.

Just as I thought she couldn't do better, the first grade teacher then told the kids she would come to our room on Monday to test them! Awesome! She is even going to wear shoes that tied so they have TO TIE HER SHOES. Oh my gawd, brilliant!! Love her! Most of my kids were excited. The bright one? Well she tried to convince me that she's not worried because the first grade teacher will probably forget. Oh my little one, don't bet on it.

***UPDATE: First grade teacher did show up on Monday and my little bright one NAILED IT. She practiced all weekend. Love it***

Snazzy

Aren't these just the definition of snazzy?!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rant

Just read this article on Obama's push for education spending reform.

For some reason, Blogger won't let me cut and paste a paragraph that really grabbed me (second page, starts with "Duncan has said...") but the gist is that the Administration will remain committed to providing Title I funding to needy schools but those needy school have been failing, so the current way isn't working. The Post followed up with a comment that lawmakers will simply push for formulaic changes to ensure the schools in their districts get enough funding when Title I simply doesn't cut it.

Sigh.

So what I am understanding from the article is that the Administration doesn't really like Title I funding but understands it can't simply go without. So they will baseline fund the program and then make the schools fight like dogs for scraps. Or, if for some crazy reason our representatives in Congress have the poor schools in their districts on the top of their priority list (unlikely), they might go to bat for us.

And we, the poor failing schools, are the problem.

Right.

Am I for innovation? YES. Am I for best practices and staff development? YES. Am I for providing the kids in my room with the best kindergarten education I can? YES. Our school does all that but unfortunately this year was a failing year. One of my colleagues reported something like a 40% rate of transiency among our kids. You get a new group - school-wide - almost every year. Many from another country, many with very limited skills. We work our behinds off to get these kids up to speed, yet when a small handful can't do it in the time we are given - WHAMMO - YOU FAIL.


Maybe I am bitter, maybe I am tired of Title I being grouped in with "failing schools." Maybe I am tired of "failing schools" being all grouped together. Maybe I am tired of the national conversation NEVER EVER being about the struggles my school faces. I can't imagine we are the only ones.

Maybe no one will admit that no matter how much innovation, how many great teachers, how many great administrators, you still have some kids who need more time, you have some kids who just won't excel, you still have parents that don't care, parents who don't know HOW to care, or parents that aren't home to care.

I'll step off my soap box because I'm not even sure this is making any sense anymore, I'm just irritated...