Monthly Archives: January 2012

when i grow up

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I was out on the playground with some of our Kindergarteners one afternoon this week when one of the boys ran up to me and asked, “Ms. Eliot, when you’re done here and all grown up what do you want to be?”

I couldn’t help but smile, it was so darn cute!

“You mean, when I don’t work here anymore, what do I want to be doing?”

“Yeah.” he said.

“Well, one day I want to open my own school.”  I pointed towards the office.  “And so I guess I’d have the same job as Ms. Lezze-Faire.  But I still want to spend lots of time with kids like you!”

He smiled and hugged me.  “Okay, cool!”  Then ran off to play.

In these very busy days of the new year, it’s really the little moments that matter the most.  🙂

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i love you too

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Today was my first day back.  We’re open year round but I’ve been on vacation for the past two weeks.  It was nice to be back…but not nice getting up before the sun…and I’m exhausted now.  It’s always hard for me to come back after a vacation, I always feel like I have to reteach my kids the basics.  Because, you know, no one does thing just the way you do…and the kids always seem to “forget” the basics.

But I can pleasantly report that today went surprisingly smooth!  I mean, I had to remind them how to walk in a quiet line, use their table manners, and how to sit quietly at circle time…but other then that I can say there weren’t any issues!  I breathed a sigh of relief!

Here was my best part of the day:  We were playing on the playground this morning when out of the corner of my eye I see a little girl from my class walk into the office with her mom.  A glass door leads from the office onto the playground.  She spotted me on the playground, and I could see her start jumping up and down while screaming something at her mom and pointing to me.  She started running back and forth from the door to her mom (her mother was signing her in) and then as soon as her mom opened the door she ran, as fast as her legs could carry her, straight to me screaming, “You’re back!”  She then gave me a huge hug and said, “I missed you!”  She ran back to her mom, gave her a hug, told her bye, and then came back to me and hugged me again saying, “I love you!”

“I love you too, honey.”  I said.  And this is why my job is so great.

vibe

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A co-worker and I got into a mini-debate awhile ago.  It started when she asked if I wanted a shelf for my room.  I told her that although I appreciated the offer, it didn’t really match the colors in my room.  She then said, “Yeah, I know, but I just thought it would make your room less….I don’t know….boring.”  So then I said, “What do you mean by ‘boring’?”  So she explained that she felt my room didn’t have a vibrant, carefree vibe…it felt boring to her.  And I thought, “Huh, okay…to each his own I guess…”  I then explained to her the reason my room is the way it is and in the end we agreed to disagree.  Here’s the scoop:

I have made a conscious decision in my classroom to create a very calming, neutral color scheme.  Looking around my room you see a lot of blue and green (in various shades) with some splashes of purple and grey.  There are also tan and brown shades…mostly though natural wood or basket materials.    My main area rug has a splash of bright color as do the bulletin board boarders and my word wall alphabet.  The only other major splashes of bright color are the children’s work which is hung all over the room. I feel the color scheme is very earthy and natural and it helps me focus on the kids and what needs to get done.   

I know how much energy young children have…how they find it hard to sit still and use inside voices.  I also have read various articles about how color affects mood and behavior.  So when I got my current classroom I wanted to set up a blank canvas of sorts for a couple different reasons:  1) to subliminally encourage the children to behave a bit calmer and 2) to use the room as a backdrop to display all the children’s work.  My room isn’t quiet or still…there is always noise and activity…but it’s not chaos and wildness…they are focused on what they are doing.  And their work does tend to pop against the color scheme.

I have nothing against a room full of primary colors.  I also don’t think that teachers who have very colorful rooms have children who are wild and out of control.  I have seen many pre-k classrooms that are lovely and full of color everywhere you look with shelves, rugs, walls, toy bins, doors, and tables all various colors!  And in these rooms I’ve seen children behaving the same way they do in  mine.  And if that’s what suits you…great.  It’s just not me…too over-stimulating.

As far as neutral vs. color goes…I have seen (both online and in person) rooms that, for me, hit a good balance.  One that comes to mind that I like the best is the Teach Preschool Children’s Studio.  There is a lot of neutral in the space (walls, floors, cupboards, and most shelves) with bright pops of color all about (rugs, chairs, and some furniture).  I really like this space and I could see sending my child here or working here myself without being overwhelmed.

In the end each teacher has to do what feels right for them.  When I walk into my class each day I feel calm and relaxed…and I hope my kids do too.  It’s our home away from home…and I want us all to be comfortable and happy together.  So far, I think we are.

 

all aboard!

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I had my first ever Polar Express Pajama Day this year!  I wanted to do something different for our Christmas party and I wasn’t sure what until another teacher asked if I wanted to join her class for a pajama day and movie.  I agreed and after thinking about it I suggested that we should combine pajama/movie day with our Christmas parties…she agreed!  So our first annual Polar Express Pajama Day was born!

The children were super excited…before the movie stated they had to find their spots on the carpet and get their tickets punched.  I found printable polar express tickets online here and copied them on goldenrod paper.  This alone, made the kids super excited and our day hadn’t really started yet!  I was amazed how quietly 22 3 and 4 year olds sat waiting to get their ticket punched.

We started the movie.  During the hot chocolate scene the children got another surprise….they all got a cup of creamy homemade hot chocolate that I had made that morning in my crock pot!  It was a bit of an ordeal getting to work early and finding a place in the classroom next to an outlet (I only have 2 outlets in my room) but well worth it!  It was sooo yummy!

We finished the movie and at the end the school secretary came in and said we got a package in the mail from the North Pole!  You should have seen the looks on the kids faces!  It was priceless!  I opened the package and inside we found a letter from Santa and a bell for each child!  (Okay, don’t tell anyone but I wrote up a letter and the other teacher got bells from the Dollar Tree)  Just like the bell in the movie!  The kids actually cheered.  It was awesome.

We both agreed to do this every year…I couldn’t have asked for a better morning.

 

where we left off and other updates

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The last time I posted I was talking about our valentine grandparents tea and that went off without a problem and everyone had an awesome time!  Even Ms. Lezze-Faire made an appearance and seemed to enjoy herself!  The children made little flowers with sucker centers for the favors…we had enough left over to give each teacher one!

The rest of that school year went fairly well with the majority of my students being more then ready for Kindergarten.   That left me feeling good for what this year would bring.  But, being the buzz kill she is, Ms Lezze-Faire came to me literally days before school was to start and told me that I basically sucked at doing my job.

She said that a certain parent (and that parent’s kindergarten teacher) had complained that the child wasn’t ready for kindergarten because I hadn’t done my job properly.  She said they had complained that the child couldn’t sit still for long periods of time and couldn’t color correctly.  She said this was due to the fact that I didn’t do worksheets in my class.

Um, hello?  Are you serious?  First of all, if the only 2 complaints they had were about attention span and coloring, I think that’s pretty good.  Secondly, some children will always have a hard time sitting for long periods, especially if what is being done doesn’t hold their attention.  Thirdly, who cares if they aren’t perfect at coloring?  It’s coloring…not brain surgery.  Duh.

So anyway, she told me that I had to do worksheets or that she’d fire me and find someone to replace who would do them.  So there.  That’s what I got 2 days before school started.  Fine.  I’ll do what I have to do to keep my job.  No one wants to be out of work in this economy.  So i started scouring the internet for paperwork I liked…which wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

Let me be clear on this:  I am not against paperwork…I’m against worksheets.  They are different.  I don’t like the thought of children tediously tracing something or counting pictures and circling a number.  I don’t like the thought of children drawing a line to match two pictures on a paper.  It’s just too passive…and doesn’t really engage the child in learning.   I have no problem if the children are doing an activity and recording their findings (that’s what real scientists do after all).  I also have no problem with my children creating books and filling in letters or stamping a certain amount of items or something similar.  So for a lot of my paperwork, that’s how I set it up…the children are simply doing a hands-on activity and recording what they find (much easier with number activities…letters, not so much).  It has seemed to work so far.

This year I have 10 children showing up consistently.  I have 12 on my roll.  I only have 3 girls…and lots of wild crazy boys!  Sooo….I’m trying to find ways to keep them interested and engaged…which is not as easy as it sounds.  So far, I have done okay…but I think I can do better.

Mid year progress reports have just gone out and most of my kids are right where I want them to be…so I’m happy.  I’m hoping they continue to progress over the next 5 months…and hopefully the ones who are behind start to catch up.  Now that I know where they are all, I know who to spend more time with and what area they need extra support.  I look forward to telling you all stories of our days together…it feels good to be back.

finally back

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Happy 2012 everyone!

So……it’s been almost a year since my last blog post.  Things in my life kinda spiraled out of control shortly after valentines day (personally not professionally)…and when everything finally settled down and a sense of normalcy returned, I was exhausted and adjusting to my new students.  So, blogging got put on the back burner for even longer.

I’m ready for a new year, the last one pretty much sucked for me.  I promise I’ll try to post at least a couple times a week…if anyone is still out there to read it!  Haha!