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!

party favors

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Well, we finally got the okay from Ms. Lezze-Faire to do our Grandparents Tea for Valentine’s Day.  We’ve gone to the dollar store to pick up tablecloths, cups, plates, etc.  I’ve also printed out some songs for us to pick from for the kids to sing.  All we need now is an idea for party favors.  We want them to be made (as much as possible) by the children.  We also want to keep them as low cost as possible.  Any ideas or suggestions?  It would be greatly appreciated!  🙂

signs

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One morning last week my children were slow to come and so at 8:30 I only had 6 kids!  So I got blocks and cars out on the carpet for them to play with while we waited for our friends to show up.  They were playing in groups of 2’s and 3’s – making ramps, buildings, and roads for the cars.  After about 10 or 15 minutes of play one of my brightest announced: “There are no tractors allowed in here!”  as she pointed to a block “castle” she had made.

Some of the boys didn’t believe her and attempted to drive their tractors into her structure.  She once again made her announcement and moved their tractors out.  Then one boy put his back in and in frustration she shouted, “I said NO TRACTORS!  I guess I’m gonna have to make a sign so you guys know!”

She asked me for paper and a pencil, which I happily supplied.  Then she asked me how to write, “No tractors allowed.”  I told her to sound out the words and write the sounds she heard.  I knew she was more then capable of doing this – she knows all of her letters and letter sounds and is already beginning to read.  So, after a few minutes of work she brought me her sign.  I read it, “No traktrs ulwd.”

I smiled.  “Beautiful.”   I said.  She asked for some tape so she could put up her sign.  After it was up, she brought everyone over to read it to them.  After that, no one tried to put a tractor in her castle, the sign was up and now it was an official rule.

It was a lovely moment.

tea party

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I’d like to do something different for our Valentine’s Party this year (if I can convince Ms. Lezze-Faire to let me use a specific part of our building) and have a Grandparents Tea.  I ran this idea by a couple of my fellow teachers and they liked it so much that they asked if all 3 of our classes could join together!  I told them it was fine with me!

Anyway, I’ve been trying to gather ideas online for everything from decorations, simple menu items, maybe a simple project, and even a valentine they can make their grandparents – basically, ideas for all aspects of this event – none of us have ever had a grandparents tea before!  So i thought I would put a quick post about it together so that you, my readers, can contribute any ideas you have!

So, I’d like to hear your thoughts…what should we do or have at our Valentine Grandparents Tea?  Any and all comments and ideas are welcome – I’m always open to suggestions!  🙂

unbelieveable

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Anyone who has been following my blog for any length of time knows i abhor worksheets for preschoolers.  That’s not to say that there isn’t some developmentally appropriate papers that can be done – but those certainly do not include worksheets!

So one morning last week I was talking to 2 of my co-workers and this was thier brief conversation:

Teacher A:  “Oh, I almost forgot to ask, did you give Teacher C those worksheets she wanted?”

Teacher B:  “Yes, I almost forgot but I gave them to her right before I left yesterday.”

Teacher A:  “Oh good, because that parent has been bugging Teacher C for a few days now telling her she needs to send papers home with her daughter!”

Teacher B:  “Well, that’s good, it will give the child something to do and it never hurts to start young.”

Me:  “Why would Teacher C be sending home worksheets when she teaches 2 year olds?!”

Teacher A:  “Because she has a few kids who are really bright and are getting bored and in trouble so thier parents asked for paperwork for them.”

Me:  “So, you’re telling me instead of educating her parents on what is developmentally appropriate for thier children and giving them ideas of activities they could be doing with thier children she is just going to give in to their demands and send home worksheets?!  They are 2 for heaven sakes!  They can’t even hold a crayon correctly – much less do a worksheet!  I teach 4 year olds and I have not sent 1 worksheet home all year and, as young and needy as they are, they are still picking up on what I’m trying to teach!  I don’t get this at all!”

Teachers A and B stared at me as if I had lost my mind.  They were literally speechless.  After a minute or two of silence they made a feeble attempt to defend worksheets at Teacher C – they soon realized I wasn’t going to change my mind.  It bothers me how easily teachers (and parents) of young children turn to worksheets.  Parents ask me all the time what they can do to help their children.  When I give them age appropriate suggestions, most of the parents ask, “Can’t I just get them one of those get ready for kindergarten workbooks instead?”  Are parents really that lazy?  Or is it the teachers who make the parents believe it’s okay because it’s what they do in class?  I don’t know.  I can’t believe what they world of education is coming to these days.

i thought it would be easy…

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…but as it turns out, it’s not.  When my co-teacher left at the end of last school year and I found out I would be in the classroom alone – I was super excited!  The idea of having half the amount of kids and not having to always okay my ideas with someone else (even though I was head teacher and didn’t have to – I liked to have my co-teacher involved and get agreement on ideas) gave me the impression that this year was going to be much easier then years past!  I envisioned being able to give each child all the attention each needed so that they could all succeed to be the best learners possible.  I thought that we could all be much more productive in class because there would be less kids.  I had visions of great projects and learning opportunities!

But, that’s not the reality I’ve been living this school year.  Instead, it feels like the exact opposite and I come home feeling exhausted and, more often then not, having a headache.  This is why I’ve been absent from my blog so much this year.  I work for a private, non-profit school so we don’t have any services available to our children.  However, I have 3 children who could use speech therapy and 2 others who I feel might have some sort of special need (but I don’t know what…something’s just “off” with each of them).  Also, I have about 4 children who have behavior problems (2 of those being aggressive towards others).  And this class is really young.  I only have 14 kids.  I get so discouraged some days.  Then there are other days that run so smoothly I begin to wonder if it’s not something I do to cause the “bad” days.

This class is young.  Needy.  Immature.  Whatever you want to call it.  There have been a lot of days where I feel like I’m failing them because I don’t always have the time or ability to give them what they need.  I’m doing the best I can – this is such a big adjustment not having another adult to help me.  I had thought I was doing well, and they were starting to “get it” – but then I did mid-year evaluations.  So many of them don’t know so many of the concepts we’ve been working on for months!  So once again, I think I must be doing something wrong.  But then I think, maybe they just aren’t ready?  I dunno.

Today I was reading through some of my favorite blogs to catch up and I read this post on Elbows, knees, dreams and I totally thought for a minute she must have a hidden cam in my class because I can totally relate to everything she wrote here!  They also don’t listen when I’m reading  (or talking) to them.  I can read something like, “The little girl ran away from the house to get away from the witch.”  And then I might ask, “So, why did the girl run away?”  And I get answers like “She ran fast!”, “She likes to run!”, “Because she’s having fun!” and others along those lines.

Anyway, I don’t mean to complain.  I do love my job.  And these kids aren’t terrible or horrible.  They can be sweet, cute, funny, inquisitive, innovative, helpful, caring, and silly.  We laugh and have fun together.  We ponder together.  We investigate together.  And we’re growing together.  Everyday.

 

E-I-E-I-O

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We learned about farmers and farms by taking a field trip to a local farm/pumpkin patch!  This was my first ever field trip with this age group so I, of course, was completely stressed out and worried for the entire week leading up to the trip!  But in the end, it was a huge success and everyone had a great time!  We got to see a farm show where we learned about different farm animals and farm equipment.  The children loved having the opportunity to pet all the different kinds of farm animals and see them up close!

After the farm show they gave us popcorn and juice and then we got to explore the pumpkin patch!  They had a couple old tractors out the children could climb on and explore, hay bales piled up to make pyramids (they enjoyed climbing to the top), and a corn “maze” (not really a maze – but that’s what they called it) for the children to walk through, and a “cave” for them to explore!  They loved every second of it!  We all brought our lunch so after exploring the pumpkin patch we sat down for a picnic – then all the children got to pick a pumpkin before we headed back to school!  I only wish they had had a hay ride for us – I always loved those as a kid!  Since this trip went so well I’m already thinking about where we could go in the spring!