Thursday, 27 October 2011

Subbing and Halloween


It has been a busy few weeks, and since my kids come to school every second day, every day feels like Monday with them. 

You know that Monday feeling, where you don't want to get up, and everything seems harder than it should? That's what I'm trying to fight these days, though after a frustrating day, you can always pick out a few good points, and then remember that after all, these little guys are only 5. Or 4 (there are quite a few late birthdays in my class).

There have been some great moments in the last week or two, from starting a new literacy program with the kids that didn't totally bomb, to them asking every day when they can do centers. This one is big because I decided to try something a little different from most Kindergarten programs in that 'centers' don't mean 'free play' or that the kids always choose which one they'd like to go to. 

I have been creating centers that include all of the Kindergarten curriculum, and putting kids into groups of three to complete each one over a few weeks. So far they've made tangrams, been nature detectives (making patterns and sketching leaves, twigs, rocks, etc.), become architects, played Twister, Operation, fished for magnets in the rice table, made puppets and puppet shows, 'written' their own stories, shared books in the secret reading tent, bowled, used the balance board, balls and bounced up and down the hallway for our active movement centers. 

As for funny moments, there have been a few. 

- One of the teaching assistants leaves us at 2:00, and one little guy figured she was leaving to go to sleep, and told her very kindly to, "sleep tight now," as she left.

- The kids think that when they go out for recess, the adults have their own recess. (Not likely in Kindergarten- I don't think I've made it down to the staff room at all this week!) The great thing is though, that they think we have our own playground, and that we spend our recesses playing on swings and their all time favorite, the slides! I wish!

-There have been some moments that totally throw me off and I often find myself laughing at stories that, if coming from an adult, would make my actions totally inappropriate. Thank goodness for 5-year olds! 

At lunch yesterday, one of the boys was telling me a story that I wasn't quite catching, so I asked him to slow down, then swallow the half of a sandwich he somehow had crammed in his mouth, and tell me again. 
He started with, "Do you know Buhbal?"
I had no idea what he was saying, so asked him to repeat it again.

"Do you know Butterball? The dog?"

"Oh! Now I understand. No, I don't know Butterball." (What a great name for a dog! Of course by this time I'm starting to laugh, because he had a dog named Butterball).

He continues his story with a huge grin on his face that is somewhat covered by leftover sandwich. 

"Well, Butterball, he ate rat poisoning and now he ded."

(That's exactly how he said 'dead', and if you've ever read the comic 'Pearls Before Swine,' that might ring a bell- right Pauline?)

That shocked me a little bit, but he was just saying it as a matter-of-fact statement, and wasn't bothered by it in the least. Poor Butterball, and thank goodness for farm kids!

- This bunch is a very loud group, so if I ever manage to get them all quiet at the same time it's an achievement. The other day, one of these moments occurred, everyone was silent and ready for what was happening next- it was lovely! 

Then, from the middle of the silence one little guy says very clearly,
"Sorry Bugs Bunny!"

Nothing funny about that, but the magic had ended. First one kid started to laugh and repeat it, then another and another, until there were 23 kids laughing hysterically and saying, "Sorry Bugs Bunny! Sorry Bugs Bunny!"

THEN it was a little funny. Geez.

- Last week I was lucky enough to substitute in high school (Gr. 9-12 Bio, Physics, Science, Phys. Ed. and a video options class). Those kids are HUGE! And dirty. Thank goodness high school students seem to think that teachers are all half deaf and don't understand dirty jokes, because I narrowly avoided a few pretty awkward situations. I'm the youngest teacher in the school, and (some days) look it.

I ended up having extra kids in some of my classes (I don't know their names yet, and they would eventually get pulled out by their teacher, so no harm done...) 

Grade 9's are very funny. They're just at the point of being interested in the opposite sex, and spend their entire class annoying them if possible. On the other hand, they still have some kind of capacity to want to please you, so they sometimes seem sweet. In the video options class, students were to come up with a script for their videos, then share with the rest of the class. One boy was blushing the whole time, and kept very awkwardly mentioning parkour, and how parkour was going to be included in their story about Rapunzel. (Very random I know!) At this point I was wondering what was going on, because the poor kid was beet red and kept looking for a reaction from me. 

Side note: In Calgary I was lucky to work with and help train some of the people who ended up opening up the first parkour and alternative fitness gym in that area, and so couldn't figure out if this student had somehow found information on me in relation to that, or what...

At the end of class he came up to me again, and said, "Is it some about parkour? (It took him a good minute to get his question out, and it was a little too entertaining to help him out, poor kid.) 

It turns out that their teacher had mentioned that I used to do gymnastics and had offered to help teach any gymnastics/parkour/alternative parts of the Phys. Ed. curriculum if needed. Mystery solved! 

- I also subbed in a Grade 4 classroom last week and found it much more comfortable than high school, though I think I still prefer the little ones. It was fun to joke around a little more in Grade 4 though, and have kids understand sarcasm and facial clues to get their answer. That doesn't happen in Kindergarten yet!

Next week is Halloween, and this can be a celebrated event or not in elementary schools. I live in a fairly religious area, and many people don't celebrate Halloween, while many others do. To avoid trouble in the school, the Elementary end has a theme day. This year, our theme is 'Favorite Literary Character'. Kids are in mixed grade groups and visit all the different classrooms and do a short activity in each. I was planning on dressing as something easy to put together, like a cowgirl (so I don't have to buy anything) and having a cookie decorating activity. Unfortunately, another teacher told me yesterday that another teacher is going to be Mrs. Claus and is already planning a cookie decorating activity.

I guess my old gymnastics track suits will come out for another year! Now I'm trying to find a book that includes gymnasts in it, and track down enough mats to do a safe activity in my small room...

More on that later, thanks for reading!


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Life of a small town, first year Kindergarten teacher!


  My name is Katie, and I am a first year teacher living in a tiny town. I was one of the lucky few people from my grad class to have found a teaching job it seems, so I really do appreciate my half-time position. I am currently teaching (full day) Kindergarten and subbing on my days off, and am learning much more than the kids at this point I'm sure! 

  A few friends have told me that I should consider starting a blog, and I've heard more than one teacher say, "I should write all of these things down and write a book one day," so I figured I should try this out and see how I do throughout the year. Plus, I really need some practice writing, as I will never make it as a mathematician or scientist...

  My classroom is a busy (and unfortunately still a little too loud for my liking) place of 23 kids- including two three year olds who come in for half days. We have just finished our 15th day of class and quite honestly, a good part of those 15 days have been lessons in hand-washing, taking turns and bathroom runs! My bunch of monkeys includes a great mix of backgrounds, cultures and languages, and many funny stories have occurred as a result. 

Here are a few highlights of our year so far:

- The one little german boy (who must be growing) took a massive spill into the lockers one day, then stood up, tears streaming down, and in the voice of the little pigs from Shrek says, "that was a good one, ja?"

- Another little guy with an enormous amount of energy whose little face folds in half when he smiles (his dimples are that big) JUMPED out of the bathroom one day and says, "I have good news... and bad news!"
I ask him for the good news first...
"I WASHED my hands!"
"And the bad news?"

- This little guy does have an end to his energy, but no end to the volume in his voice. One day he had reached the end of his rope and as we were trying to get him ready for the bus, refused to put on his own shoes. 
  So I did what any kind, caring adult would do and left him in the boot room for a few minutes to see what he would do. As I peeked around the corner, I see him laying flat out across the walkway, one shoe in each hand yelling, "SHOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS!"
  Well then I was no good to help as I was laughing too hard. Poor thing! He did eventually get his shoes on, and didn't miss the bus (I'm not that mean!)

- One day I decided to let the whole class walk to the library by themselves to see how they would do. They were pretty quiet, didn't get lost and eventually made it all in one piece, so I thought I would get them to try it back to our classroom as well. The librarian had read a story about a turkey, so I told the kids that they could pretend to be very quiet turkeys walking back to our classroom. Well, if those 5-year olds didn't take off running down the hallway, arms flapping and squawking right past the office where the principal, vice principal and behavioural specialist were standing... oops!

One last one!

- On my first day, I inadvertently responded, "oh my gosh!" to a story one of the kids was telling me. A little girl quite seriously told me that I shouldn't say that- it was bad. Well what did I do but say it again three seconds later because I was so flustered by being told by a 5-year old!
 I did catch her later on that day calling a boy, "sexy pants," so now we understand each other a little better!

  So far there have been quite a few ups and downs, but it is true that the little things can save the day. There are a few students just learning English, and when they get excited to share their new words and sayings, it feels like they're learning something after all!

That's where I'll leave it for today. 
  I've got lots of prep work to do after spending the morning observing another Kindergarten room in a town nearby, and I'd like to get started on a bulletin board-story about Curious George and Clementine (our classroom sock monkeys- thanks Pat!) and possibly begin writing a story about a hero...

More on that another time,
Thanks for reading!