Tuesday, 6 December 2011

They can READ!

Well...a little!

Monday was a pretty exciting day for me, as a few of the kids started to put together letters and associate their sounds into words. We have learned five letters so far: m, a, s, n and t. A strange order yes, but the program we are using introduces them in this way, plus, we can spell short words after learning very few letter sounds.

One little girl just turned 5 about a month ago, and she was the first to 'read' the word "mat" by sounding out the letter sounds. A few of the other kids caught on, and most of them were pretty excited to know and see what other words looked like. I wasn't expecting to see anything like this until closer to the spring- these parents must be working hard with their little ones!

Parent-teacher interviews went well, and I learned a bit more about the kids and their family dynamics with each conversation. Again and again I'm reminded at how important communication is between kids, parents, teachers, assistants and anyone else involved. I'm glad that I had enough communication with the parents that there were no surprises on the students report cards, and that parents didn't have big concerns but came anyways to talk about their child for 15 mins. (I was completely booked from 3:15-7:30!)

Today I hosted my first meetings with parents, social workers, coordinators, behaviour consultants, occupational therapists and speech and language pathologists to talk about certain kids in my class. They went well, thank goodness!

When I signed up for teaching I didn't realize that I would also have to become proficient in talking to, understanding and putting into place strategies from doctors, therapists, psychologists, lawyers and counsellors, never-mind being responsible for researching various medications, disorders and laws. I was reminded today that even having a 'communication book' between the classroom and home environments should remain mostly positive, as these documents can be sub-poena'd in a court of law.
As long as the child stays central to these suggestions, then that's what matters. Often it doesn't seem that way.

After my meetings today I got to sub in Grade 2 and do some art for the afternoon. What a good way to end the day!

Before I forget to mention, my evaluation by the superintendent went well (even though I had to change my lesson plan on the fly) and so did the 'induction' night put on by the region to welcome new teachers to the profession. I'm glad that it didn't include having to stand up and recite the oath from memory (as many seasoned teachers tried to make me believe the day before)! We did however, have to stand as a group and reply, "I will," to each statement. I couldn't help thinking about the story of Pat's Dad, who was a very loved teacher and principal, standing up in front of the administration and important people in his region to lead an induction ceremony, and starting to laugh so hard that they almost had to carry him out as he was picturing these new teachers as part of a mass wedding, complete with the trading of vows.

Next week is our last week before Christmas holidays, so we have been practicing our "Porcupine in a Pine Tree" song, and getting ready for our Christmas brunch for the parents and grandparents. On Monday we will be cooking for most of the day (thank goodness for parents who are so willing to give their time and ideas!) and then we will have our Christmas program on that night. Wednesday will be our Christmas brunch, and Friday we will join the rest of the elementary students on a trip to see a movie, then back to the school for pizza and a short assembly. I expect the kids (and me too) will be excited and bouncing off the walls all week!

A few funny stories to finish up:

Last Wednesday we had a massive snowstorm, and as 80% of our school population are bus students, no one came to school. This can be pretty confusing to Kindergarten kids, as we have school every second day as it is, and when our middle day (the kids know Wednesday as our 'sandwich' day, poor things) is taken away, it gets even harder to explain! One little guy came in on Friday, breathlessly saying, "um, I'm sorry I was late!"

We replied saying, "It's ok, you weren't actually late. The buses didn't come on Wednesday because of the snow storm, so there were no kids at the school, only adults!"

He recovered quite quickly from that surprise and asked, "Is it a new month?"

I was pretty excited that he would have figured this out, and said, "Yes it is! Do you know which month it is?"

"Is it December?"

"Yes! Good for you for remembering!"

At this point, his jaw literally dropped (just like the cartoons where it hits the floor with a *smack*), and he took his hand and manually lifted his jaw back up to close his mouth.
Some kids would make incredible cartoon characters.

- I got quite the shock during our morning playing of O'Canada on Friday, as one little boy (whose snow-pants were still half on at this point) who was standing in front of me, facing the flag, slowly turned around and very deliberately, winked at me. I almost had to leave the classroom I was laughing so hard- a great example for the new assistant who had started only 5 minutes before!

- One last lesson for me that I'm sure I'll learn over and over throughout the years: pre-screen everything! The kids were working well on an activity and I asked them if they would like some Christmas music. They indicated that they would love this, so I went to YouTube as I didn't have any Christmas cd's at that point. I found an 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' song, turned it on and went across the classroom to speak to one of the assistants. The kids continued to work, dancing and singing as they went. The song ended, but a good five seconds afterwards, I found out that another song was randomly tacked on to the end of a kids' Alvin and the Chipmunks song- the Black Eyed Peas, 'My Humps.'

Oops! I made it across the room as quickly as possible while trying to make it look like nothing was going on. One little girl told me, "Oh! That's a cool dude song!"
If that's the only trouble I caused then thank goodness!

I think that's the end of my ramblings for the week, thanks for reading!

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