Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Naps, dance parties, and something neat about Kindergarten!

I've mentioned quite a few times that I love the physical and developmental age of Kindergarten kids. I love the way they think, grow and act, and feel pretty darn lucky to spend so much time with them daily. One of the greatest things about small children is their empathy and willingness to accept and celebrate differences.

It's clearly been a busy month (and a bit!) as I haven't posted in much too long. As promised, I'm going to focus on the positives of my job!

1. As always, I am so lucky to have incredible people to work and laugh with. As I'm in two schools this year, it has been so much fun to meet new people again, and to get to know some of the younger teachers in the region. We have had dinner parties, workouts and daily pep talks involving show tunes. There are some truly incredible teachers and TAs in this region, who put huge amounts of energy and creativity into their jobs and are motivating just to watch in action!

2. I get to laugh every day at work. I get to put on music and dance whenever I feel like it, and always have 14+ dance partners ready to bust a move with me. I also get some of the most straight-forward honesty there is.

3. Nap time. Forced or not, it's always a great time to close the doors, pull the blinds, put on some music, lay on the carpet and pretend to snore through a few songs. (If only they'd actually sleep!)

4. We are on the receiving end of some of the greatest hugs in the world! For one little guy who has a tough life outside of school, our morning hugs have become a central part to our day, and (we hope!) helps him realize that even though things are tricky and tough to figure out at home, we will be there to welcome him and to provide some routine and stability.

A couple anecdotes to close this post:

I have one little guy who speaks very quickly and stutters as a result. One day during free play he came up to me with a toy ambulance in his hand saying, "L-l-l-l-ook t-t-t-eacher! I-i-it's a-a-a....sorta-police!" Of course it took me a few go-rounds to understand the connection he was making! (This is the same little guy who went around the school on his birthday with leftover cake for the other teachers saying, "H-h-hey! You wan'cake?"

In one school I have a little boy (4 years old) who is epileptic. He is mostly non-verbal, as he has about 5 words that he can speak and has very little connection between these words and their meanings. Today I had just started on our 'Sound Connections,' literacy program, with the aim to review letter sounds. This little boy shoved his way to the front, took a pointer, and made his way right to the board to stand in front of me. This already was huge for him, as he is a very busy guy and doesn't like to stay in one place (much less one room) for any period of time. Second, the fact that he was engaging in our lessons and with the rest of the kids was pretty amazing. The kids realized right away that it was this little guy's turn to play teacher, and to watch him for instruction. I printed a letter on the board (or combinations of them), and the students would sing the letter sounds together as he tapped the board with his wand, and stopped when he stopped. It was very cool to see the connections he was making just from his facial expressions.

In the same school I have another boy who is very sensitive to the feeling of things, being touched and loud noises. Today we were making snowmen out of finger-paint and our thumbs, and this little guy decided that he would do it too. This is huge for this little one, and he stuck his hand right in the paint (as long as he had a clean towel to wipe off on!) and got to work without a fuss. Thank goodness for cameras!

I think that's all I can handle for tonight as I'm falling asleep as I type!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Never Have I Ever...the Teacher's Version

  This first month and a half of school has been very frustrating, draining and full of opportunities to redefine my capacity for patience and the limits of my immune system. Both need some work. There have been some fantastic experiences too, which I will write about at a later date. It seems more important to get this out now.

Loosely based on the game, “Never Have I Ever,” I felt a need to write a few things down, as much to vent as to look back on in the future…I’m sure I will be adding to it!

Never Did I Ever (Imagine)…Teaching Version:

-       potty training children
-       tossing out a whole day’s lesson planning just to pursue a great conversation with a group
-       chasing children down the hallways and playing unwilling games of ‘hide and seek’…ten times daily
-       locking a child out of my classroom to try to make a point
-       needing a ‘safety word’ to call out to staff to give permission to grab a runaway child
-       the amount of paperwork involved in teaching Kindergarten and Pre-K
-       wiping children’s bottoms
-       the feeling of a child’s hug after they’ve had a traumatic experience
-       and the feeling of loss when a child is taken out of school as a result of unsafe conditions at home
-       re-learning to cut, color and draw, and attempt to print right-handed to demonstrate skills (darn being left-handed!)
-       being bitten
-       being hit and kicked and essentially, beat up by a 4-year old
-       how incredible it is to see when a child finally understands a concept
-       needing time outs for myself
-       the anger and frustration I have for parents who have put their children in unsafe environments from pre-birth
-       the number of conversations involving nose-picking and bodily functions had in complete seriousness
-       the expectations placed on teachers to teach curriculum, manners, social norms, right and wrong, positive motivation, etc.
-       and then that these expectations are not continued at home
-       the responsibility to decipher, diagnose, and put in place plans for students from doctors, lawyers, social workers, behaviour consultants, occupational therapists and speech therapists
-       crying in front of a child to try to make a point
-       crying in the principal’s office
-       moving an entire class out of the classroom and into the hallway to finish reading a story to allow another student to finish a crying/screaming fit
-       having glorious dance parties often
-       being invited to student’s homes for tea parties, princess parties, farming, tv show watching and holiday dinners
-       losing so much sleep through worrying about students, lesson planning and creating ‘what-if’ situations
-       getting to know children, their families, history and health backgrounds in such depth
-       convincing children that teachers have their own playground in the staff-room

-the amount of love and care that you develop for each child in a short period of time

Thanks for reading! 

Friday, 21 September 2012

I lied...

Scratch the "not-as-exhausted" part of my last post.

I am truly, completely tired, and until today, had a pretty bleak outlook on how this year would turn out. I am still feeling more confident about asking questions, putting behaviour, speech and occupational therapy plans into place, and bombarding parents with calls, emails, etc. ANYTHING to keep communication going and for the kids to realize that parents/guardians and teachers are all on the same team.

Just the same, I almost cried on my fantastic vice-principal on Monday. Poor guy asks an innocent question like, "so, how was the day?" And gets a silly f'male (as Dad would say) blinking back, shaking her head and trying to keep down tears. This awesome fella asked me into his office and talked me through things (a runaway kid, high volume class, boundary testing and at-limits assistants and teachers) and brought up new perspectives that I was too selfish at that point to look at. It turns out he was right, and after a meeting this morning, I at least have a better understanding of one little guy's situation, and where it doesn't excuse certain behaviours, makes it much easier to realize that these are small outbursts compared to what this child is working through. I can't imagine being 4 or 5 years old and having some of the experiences that these children have had, and are 'thriving' in spite of.

The things that children in our world, country, provinces, communities and homes live through are incredible. Children have to be the most resilient human beings there are.

Many of these kids have no reason to understand emotions, or have any true reaction to care or love that they can understand or verbalize. Every child deserves to be cared for, respected and loved, and it makes me sick that there are SO many that aren't granted that basic necessity.

Sometimes the biggest thing we can do for these kids is offer consistency and and extra hug. This week I saw a vice-principal make a huge deal about a girl (grade 4 or 5) who showed up at school 4/5 days this week. She congratulated her, made sure she recognized that this was so tough for this little girl, gave her a hug and a promise that she would be right there at the door on Monday, expecting to see her face and hear about her weekend. The things that school employees do for kids consistently surprises me, and makes me so happy to be around people that truly care about kids and their lives. The lovely lady that works in my classroom was asked by the 2012-2013 graduating class to be their guest speaker, and couldn't get over that she was the one that they chose. I'm so glad that the students recognize how much certain people will give just to make sure of their success, as the people who work hardest often go unnoticed. This amazing person has been known to drive 1 1/2 hours just to buy an apple pie for a high school student who promised to show up at school for three weeks straight if there was a Costco apple pie waiting at the end for him. This might sound silly or that the student needs a swift kick and a talking-to in order to straighten up, but these are often the things that make the difference between that student putting in the time to graduate, and dropping out, and the stories that the public doesn't hear during labour/wage disputes (not that I am in any way willing to dispute a solid stance on either side at this point). In the end, totally worth the trip and cost, but can seem like a silly thing to endorse on the surface. There are some truly amazing people that work in the schools I am lucky enough to be in.

Now to switch the topic! Our senior girls had their first games of the season this past week, and while I am a very quiet, unconfident contributor to strategies during the game, I think I'm picky enough to make points on form, strength and motivations after the game, and so far, I feel I'm contributing a bit to the team and I'm not really getting in the way of the head coach of the team (he is much more vocal and focused on plays during games- which is a great balance). It has been very cool to see how body positions and efficiency can transfer from gymnastics to other sports, and also fun that I can keep having an active environment to look forward to. The girls have asked me if I would be interested in working out with them/running an extra workout on Monday nights after school, which will be a fun way to get more active myself (I get so unmotivated on the prairies, and miss mountains!) and get to know the girls. This, paired with the adult ballet class I'm taking, will at least guarantee a solid workout in addition to weekends. Tomorrow we have a home tournament that goes from about 8am-8pm (depending on how we do in games), so I'm hoping to get some paperwork done between games at least!

I think I'm typed-out for a Friday night, and my coyote friends are serenading me...I love living out here!

More about spaghetti squash, runaway kids and manners next time!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

2nd year, 2 classrooms, 2 classes, 2 times the fun!

Here we are again, except this time I'm feeling much more confident and much less exhausted than last year at this time. We have just finished our first week back to school with the kids (I've been back and setting up classrooms, meeting parents and kids and going to meetings for the past three weeks) and while I'm feeling a little tired, I'm also much more settled.

This year I am lucky enough to be renting a farmhouse outside of town, and is it ever nice to feel like I have a home again! As I mentioned in my last post, I am teaching at two different schools this year (about 10 km apart), half time at each. So far, so good. I can't say enough about having amazing people to work with in the room- at one school I have one lovely lady working in the room (so far) and am so happy to have her there again. We were together last year as well, and she is honestly the school superwoman, and regularly saves me from making huge mistakes, jumps in to clean up messes (usually made by me) and is always there to give a kiddo a hug or soothe a nervous parent. She has also become one of my closest friends here, and we look forward to the laughs that happen every day in Kindergarten.

This is a picture I colored and hung in our room for those Charlie Brown Days, remember?
In our class (at this point) we have 12 boys and 1 girl. I have replaced our carpet with wrestling mats, and it looks awesome. On our first day together we had some fun with some movement activities, a visit to the library (I wish I could put up pictures of these little guys in the cool 'reading glasses' that our awesome librarian has for the kids- hilarious!), and snack-making (fruit shish-kebabs). We also have some pretty polite little guys, as one little boy said, "excuse me Miss Kotlarz, may I get a kleenex so I don't pick it?"

I can't wait for the Miss Clark show to start on Monday...

In the other school I am sharing a classroom with another teacher, as this community is a little bigger and there are enough Kindo-gah-tens (as our VP says it) for two classes. I decided that as I have a classroom to myself at the other school, I would step back from decorating this one and let the other teacher make it her 'home base.' So far we have pretty different ways of doing things, but are working together just fine. I was really worried about the two ladies that work in the room with us, as they are there full time, and switch from my way of teaching to the other teacher's each day. That can be exhausting. We're trying really hard to get to know each other well enough that everyone feels comfortable enough to say when something isn't working out, or has a suggestion to make things run smoother. Again, I'm feeling so lucky to have these ladies to work with. They truly run the room and could do a fantastic job of it if I wasn't there. They have also worked with the lady that has done Kindergarten for the past 8 years in this school (who had everything worked out down to a science) and have been so helpful in reminding me if I'm missing something or needs attention. They're miracle workers!

This class is almost opposite my mostly-boys class, as we currently have 17 (soon to be 18+) kids, and consists of 12 girls and 5 boys. So far there are some big, lively personalities in this room, and a few that just need an extra hug once in a while. I was a little worried the first day as there were kids everywhere, asking when recess was, when home-time was, when we were having snack, gym and lunch...the entire day. I had chosen to forget that the fun part about starting Kindergarten is that often kids haven't been exposed to an environment where they are expected to listen quietly, sit still and raise their hand to speak...not that we can make it longer than 5 minutes by mid-year. It's our project for the month of September to learn these expected routines, get to know each other, and what we need to do when we are in the classroom. Our second day was much smoother and manageable already, so I think we'll get along fine.

I did discover this class' love for 'Jillian Jiggs, Maker of Wonderful, Marvelous Pigs' (Phoebe Gilman). On the inside back cover of this book there are instructions for how to make a stuffed pig out of nylons (I remember making these with my Mom and sister when we were younger), which the kids quickly picked up on and insisted we make sometime...SOON. There are some smart kiddos in this bunch. So, if anyone has a brilliant idea of how to make a Jillian Jiggs pig without sewing (I would like the kids to do as much of it themselves as possible), please pass it on to me! So far I'm thinking of knotting the end to close it up and make a tail, and using elastic bands for its' feet...

We had an eventful first week that ended with us having to cancel class for our boys on their second day to go to an 'Autism Speaks' workshop that should have been amazing. Unfortunately, it didn't include anything on Autism, and while we did get some interesting points from the regional OT on sensory children in the ten minutes she sat down with us, we felt that we had wasted the day, and would have much rather had Kindergarten. We will be back with the Miss Clark show on Monday to make up for it!

I am going to go enjoy my morning coffee in my sun-filled living room and do some reading and paperwork...have a great weekend and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

That's All Folks! You can go home now!

Again, I've been slacking on writing!

Maybe I'll be able to do a better job next year, when I'm back to teaching Kindergarten! I guess I didn't do too badly in my first year, as I've been offered a full time continuing contract (permanent job!). I'm feeling pretty fortunate, as the past few months weren't the smoothest, and I know I've learned some diplomacy this year and that honesty is truly valued, even when you don't have much negotiating power.

I found out last week that I will be teaching Kindergarten half-time in my current school, and half-time at another school, about 10 km from here. I have found a lovely house to rent, instead of living in the teacherage where windows fall out, smoke detectors go off randomly at night, and it sounds like people are walking around in your apartment. I'm really looking forward to having some space, gardens and a beautiful kitchen to work in. This year I haven't really felt like I had a home, so I'm hoping next year I will feel more settled and enjoy coming home at night.

On to the past few months:

Mother's Day tea was fun- we baked muffins and biscuits with the kids, which they served to their Moms, then had some time to read stories together.

Our Elementary assembly went really well- the kids recited three poems with actions that we had used throughout the year, so it was minimal preparation on our part!

I was able to get IPP meetings, report cards and awards done and approved in good time, and all I have left is a 'Professional Growth Plan' meeting with the Vice Principal to talk about whether I reached my goals this year or not.

Kindergrad was awesome! I had no idea how many people to expect, so set up food and powerpoint in the classroom (it was supposed to be an outdoor picnic, but of course, poured all afternoon!). Within 20 minutes our get together had stretched out into the hallway, filled the elementary end, and had to move everyone to the gym for awards. There were about 100 people that came, and we were missing about four kids! We were able to get a small gift for each child, and had a chance to tell a story about each one. Some of the Moms bought flowers for each kid to present to me as they received their own gift- it was very sweet. Felt like my own version of the Bachelor! The bouquet was massive and absolutely beautiful. It means so much to feel appreciated and a part of a community in that way.

My little guy who doesn't talk much promised me a hug that night- unfortunately he didn't come, and by the last day of school the moment had passed, but I did hear him yelling at the other kids while playing a game in the hallway on the last day! It's been so neat to see how comfortable he has gotten throughout the year.

The 15th was the last day for my Kindergarten kids, and as we wouldn't have a chance to celebrate Father's Day together, we took our last day to bake Maple Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, make cards and invite Dads in for free play and a soccer game (wouldn't you know it- pouring again!) It was a really nice way to end the year. Plus, we did get some pretty amazing hugs, and huge laughs on our last day. The kids just weren't responding to getting settled in the last days and I didn't know what else to try one day, so began to read 'Jillian Jiggs' in a really terrible Russian-Italian accent. The kids were pretty rattled and kept calling out, "speak english!" until they figured out that I was in fact, still speaking english. This ended up turning into a full day of talking like Mario and Luigi with one little guy in my class, mostly about the length of our moustaches...very productive I know...the accent did get their attention for a little bit though!

I was missing the kids by the following Monday. Yeesh.

The rest of the school has class until the 28th, so it has been a week and a bit of cleaning, setting up plans for next year, finalizing paperwork and spending some time with staff in the staffroom during breaks finally! Last week I was thankfully busy with baking for some good friends' wedding, and was able to spend a day in the school kitchen (my oven in the teacherage was awful) happily crafting cupcakes and meringues! I may have snuck in a load or two of laundry too...I think this year I've lived more like a first year University student than I ever have, down to eating itchiban at least once a week. Just gross.

While cleaning yesterday, the ladies in my room decided to tackle the science/water table, where we had created our 'Clean Mud.' I had taken out as much as possible, but there was a lot still stuck and dried to the sides, which apparently turns a little toxic. Pretty soon there were three of us scraping down the sides of this thing, sneezing out clouds of white dust and laughing so hard we were on the floor. I've been threatened with a beating if I ever decide to use that particular lesson plan again.

One of the ladies was driving to school the other day, and stopped to let one of the kids cross the road. It was our little german boy who has an incredible talent for asking questions, and not stopping until he's satisfied. He recognized who it was, and came to the window to talk to her. He greeted her with,

"What happens to the Miss Clark show if there's no kids?"

(The Miss Clark show is a Monday-morning tradition started with the purpose of getting the kids to know all of the adults in the room, and has evolved into a full talk-show with special guests and events. We had family members show up at our doors on Monday morning just to see the show- it was fantastic!)

Well this little guy didn't give a chance for Shannon to answer and said, "I know! She'll drive in on the Kindergarten car, say 'th-th-that's ALL folks! You can go home now!' "

He's got it all figured out, and we got a good laugh out of it too.

Two last (favorite) memories before I sign off!

- One day my little Luigi friend (who hates cutting and coloring) was having a hard time settling in to his activity and was waving his scissors around. I asked him if he would like to come help me with a job in the photocopy room. As we walked down the hallway he looked up at me and said,

"Miss Kotlarz, can I ask you a question?"

Of course I said yes, and he replied with, "Can I hold your hand?"

"Sure!" So down the hall we went, holding hands.

Then he looked up one more time and said, "WHAT? It's not like we're DATING!"

- On the last day of school he held onto Kathy giving her a hug and said, "I'm never going to let you go, not EVER!"

We're sure going to miss these kiddos! We had a chance to meet the new little guys for next year, and boy do they look tiny in comparison! At this point there's only one girl, who has already proven that she will keep the boys in line...it's going to be a great year.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Time Flies!

Time just passes faster and faster doesn’t it?

            I can’t believe it’s the end of April, and my kiddos only have about 20 days left. In that time we still have to pack in an assembly (each Elementary grade gets to lead an assembly, and May is all ours!), a final round of report cards and transition meetings for PUF students (this is where parents, Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists, Behavior Consultants and teachers get together to plan how to best prepare the little guys for the next year). I’m also trying to plan a field trip to the dinosaur park, and a ‘Kindergrad’ evening for the kids and their parents/grandparents. I don’t think that Kindergarten kids need a big celebration, but a potluck and picnic and a special award for each child will be manageable and fun! I also have the regular day-to-day planning (especially with Mother’s and Father’s Day(s) coming up!), assessments and maintaining our sanity!

Some highlights from this week:

One of the kids’ aunts brought in a bucketful of these little peepers:

And this little guy made an appearance last month!

 So cute! This time, there were accidents on hands and floors…

            On Tuesday I got to substitute for the Grade 1 teacher at our school and boy was that a different class dynamic. There are only 13 kids, but they really make up for it in their boy:girl ratio! I think there are only about four girls.

            On Wednesday we had a good discussion about tattling and how telling someone a piece of information can be distorted very quickly (especially on the playground!) We read a ‘Rainbow Fish’ story, then played a game of ‘Telephone,’ where you sit in a circle and the first person whispers a message to the second, they pass on what they heard, etc. until it gets back to the beginning. The message has always changed, and it’s usually humorous. During our first game, my message of, “I like red cats,” changed to, “Happy Birthday.” Our little guy who is very quiet and rarely speaks to other students unless he’s playing ball with them willingly joined in and played, without any encouraging on my part at all! This was the first time he approached another child in the classroom in such a direct way- it’s really exciting to see how comfortable he is starting to get.

            Our second game of ‘Telephone’ ended up being even funnier when I began by whispering, “I love you, Stinky Face,” (the title of a book we had read, about a little boy who asks his mother if she would love him if he was a monster, a skunk, etc.) This message changed to something so obscure that the little girl who was last was embarrassed to say what it was, as if she thought it was inappropriate. After about five minutes of looking at me nervously, she whispered, “It was, ‘I like to woman it.’”

            Probably funnier at the time, but it was a strange turn of events! I also had a phone call from the Deputy Superintendent who offered me a full time position for next year, teaching Kindergarten in two places, or Grade 1. I have a week to decide, and a lot of things to consider! It’s nice to know that they would like me back next year.

            Today I got to join in the Grade 6 girls’ Health class as they were painting flowerpots for Mother’s Day. It’s nice to be in other teacher’s classrooms and to get to know other students a little better.

            One more thing: our newspaper article was printed! The local newspaper website is currently out of service, but if I can get it, I will post it!

            Tomorrow is ‘Nerd Day,’ not sure I’ll participate in that one, but we’ll see! It is also an assembly day, and ‘Stone Soup’ day! I’m excited to see how that turns out- each student in the school is invited to bring something to put in the soup, and the cooking class and teacher put together soups for the whole school. The Grade 1’s are coming to our class to read, “Stone Soup” with us in the morning too!

            Thanks for reading!  

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Charlie Brown Days

            This week has been a mix of rain and snow so far, but at least it’s been warm enough that kids are outside for recesses and the snow isn’t sticking on the ground. I’ve been really appreciating that my classroom has an entire side full of windows (that open without falling out! My parents and friends have heard about my windows being blown out by prairie winds in the teacherage where I’m currently living). It has been so nice to have fresh air and some sunshine in the room, and to shut off the lights in the classroom, especially as our days get progressively louder when the little guys join us for the afternoons. Classrooms without fluorescent lighting seem so much calmer to me. It’s been nice to finally try out what I think will work set-up wise in a classroom this year. Many of the rooms I had been in before just had too much stuff for me! Some rooms during my practicum had artwork still stuck on the walls from years past, and posters put up just for the heck of it. I hate that. Less is more in a Kindergarten room in my mind, as the kids are so full of energy and easily distracted. Plus, who looks up near the ceiling (where most of my bulletin boards are placed)? So this year I’ve kept things as minimal as possible while designating space for the students’ work and some seasonal decorations. Luckily, we also have a boot-room attached to the classroom with three large bulletin boards on it, so I’ve kept one for extra student work, Curious George’s travel stories, pictures and adventures, and a parent board for information coming in, volunteer hours and important notes. We also have a bulletin board in the elementary end hallway that is updated with our latest projects.

            As I’ve mentioned before, my Dad found a beautiful book for me at Christmas called, “Old Billy’s Enchanted Valley.” The story and illustrations are done by a mouth painter, and while the story is a little complex for my kids so far, they really appreciate the artwork within, especially as five year olds usually aren’t all that practiced in controlling their own hand movements while drawing or painting. We did some mouth painting using shaving cream and dowels first to draw lines, shapes and our names (the kids really noticed how strong our mouths need to be to do this, and how tricky it is to manipulate something without having the help of our hands!) One of our centers this time around is set aside for kids to do mouth painting with actual paint- there haven’t been any wrong-end-of-paintbrush-in-mouth incidents yet! It’s neat to see what the kids can do, and there have been some really interesting connections made because of this project. This is what has been taking up our hallway bulletin board space for the past month or so, along with a quote I found by another mouth painter saying,
“Art is in the heart, art is in the mind, not in the hands.”

            In addition to thinking about and appreciating the challenges that others’ go through, we have been practicing some sign language (one of the Moms came in to teach us a few songs and greetings!) It was really interesting to see what the kids thought of this different ‘language.’ Many didn’t grasp what it meant to be deaf, and kept reverting to speaking, or trying to use a different verbal language to communicate.

            Today was a busy day for us, and I think I’m all played out! It’s the feeling the assistants and I have started to call a “Charlie Brown” day. You know how Charlie Brown sometimes ends up face down on the floor saying, “good grief!” THAT’s the kind of tired I am.  It was a good day though, full of laughs and a little loud for my liking, but we got a little done! We had a parent volunteer in for the whole day (I love parent volunteers!) It’s always nice to see the dynamic between parents and their kids, and for them to see what their kids are talking about when they come home at night! I do need to get better at designating tasks to people, but I’ll get there eventually. So far I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by people that put the kids first, and make their decisions based on them. It does feel like the adults in the room are a team now, as we’ve worked hard to get to know and trust each other, and there’s always someone to step in if you need a time-out! (I’ve had to take a few time-outs this year, though it’s usually from laughing too hard and needing to leave the room!)

            Today there was a constant flow of people in and out of the room. Kindergarten in Alberta sometimes includes ‘PUF’ students, or pre-kindergarten-aged kids who have been identified with a speech or developmental delay or need. As we are in a rural school that does not have a pre-school program, these little guys are in my class. The PUF program is funded differently than ‘school-aged’ public programs, and often the kids will qualify for a part or full-time aide, depending on their needs. As a result, there are four adults in my room or more at any given time. In addition to this, Speech and Language Pathologists and their assistants (three or four different people, as some of the kids are funded under PUF, and some under the K-12 public system), Occupational Therapists, Behavior Consultants and PUF Coordinators are constantly in and out of the room. This is apart from the normal Kindergarten visitors who check hearing, dental and immunizations. Today we not only had a parent in all day, but a SLP and an assistant, dental assistants in and out, and for a very short time, the principal who came in to observe. He only lasted about 4 minutes, and couldn’t understand how we could take so many people in and out all the time. So, it’s a Charlie Brown kind of day.

            Two funny stories to note before I sign off:

-       Today during snack time our parent volunteer started laughing really hard. One little girl turned around to show her ‘hula dancer’ chest made by two butter tarts…I don’t think I’ll look at those the same again! (Another time-out for me, though all of us should have left the room, even the SLP)

-       There’s one little boy who wears glasses, is very sweet, and very disorganized. He often needs some quiet space to finish his printing or crafts as he gets distracted so easily. Today I asked him to come finish his puppet that we did on Monday, and he chose to do it in the hallway. He cut out his puppet, glued on the stick, and started to skip back to the room. I asked him to put away the scissors, glue and recycling that he took out. He did this (or so I thought) and went out to recess. During the break I went to take something out of my bag and what did I see in the extra pair of shoes underneath my desk? A pair of scissors, a glue stick and wouldn’t you know it, the paper he had cut his puppet from…with his name printed on it. I had a good laugh, then when the kids came in from recess I began to tell the story of how I went to get my snack, but then saw that something had been left in my shoes! This little guy was completely enthralled in my story, and wasn’t connecting that my story was all his doing, until I said, “if you’re going to try to trick me, never leave a paper with your name written on it, J----!” Once he understood that I was talking about him he though he was pretty funny. Little nerd!

            On a final note, I was so excited that our quiet little guy actually communicated with the SLP today (who he had just met), and then played and joked with three other kids during free play. This is a huge step for him, and each time I see how comfortable he’s getting in the classroom environment, it makes me so glad that we didn’t push him to make progress faster.

            Charlie Brown out!
(Except this time I’ll pass out on my beauteous new quilt covered in daisies- thanks Mom! Xoxo)

Monday, 16 April 2012

Sports Day, Easter and Spring Break!

            Since my last post, Sports Day has come and gone! The day couldn’t have been better. All of the athletes arrived early, and deemed our falling-apart mats good enough to work with (though they smelled terrible!) Maintenance staff had also checked our ceiling hook-ups and told us they were safe enough for Pat to do his Cirque du Soleil straps routine on them.

            It was truly an incredible day. From Kindergarten to Grade 12, sports fanatics, to those who aren’t intrigued in the least, EVERYONE found something to be excited about, and EVERYONE tried something new. The athletes I asked to come are all ranked near the top in Canada, and some are the first to bring their sport to Western Canada (much less to a tiny town)! What I thought would be most interesting to the kids and staff is that all of the athletes are also University graduates, or close to it. Included in their accomplishments in sport, they brought new perspectives in Engineering, Business, Kinesiology, English, Math, Sciences and Nursing. I thought it would also be really important for students to realize that many people don’t have the opportunity to begin their sport until after high school, and that it’s never too late to try something new!

            All of the athletes are also very used to working with kids through coaching, something that everyone greatly appreciated! Our staff has also written an article that will be submitted to the regional newspaper and the ATA magazine!

            Easter came quickly, and it was fun to make bunny ears with the kids and plant mini eggs that miraculously grew lollipops by the next day! The Easter bunny also visited and left eggs filled with candy and play-dough for each child. It was especially nice that the Easter weekend led right into our spring break, so we had a few extra days to breathe and catch up!

            So here we are on the other side of spring break, one day down, and only 20 or so days left! The year has passed so quickly, and boy have I ever learned a lot!

            Thanks for reading!

Monday, 19 March 2012

On the Bonny, Bonny, Banks of Loch Lomond

On the Bonny Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond...

I have this song stuck in my head as the senior choir sang it today in a practice before their concert tomorrow. The Kindergarten kids willingly gave up some of their free play time to go listen to them sing. It always gets me how music affects people, even children. I’ve mentioned before how my most active, unsettled student is calmed and productive when listening to music. Many of the Mennonite kids are completely blown away by music too, and it’s always fun to watch them take it in. It’s amazing to see how many students in a small school are involved in something like choir (in just the senior group, about 30 students). Either way, it was absolutely beautiful music, and their pieces were all completely different- one more modern piece, the Scottish piece, and even an Italian song which the kids in my class loved.

On other topics, I have made it through the second round of report cards, and am about to get into parent teacher interviews on Wednesday. The kids are doing well (I think!) and it’s interesting to see how much they have matured in a short period of time. I think that’s what I love about working with little guys- they grow and develop so quickly- and they are always curious about the world. I tend to be drawn to physical development and movement based learning more than straight curriculum and concept based learning, so Kindergarten seems to be the place for me right now!  I’ve done a little more subbing lately, and quite honestly, I get bored in classrooms where the kids can focus for more than five minutes on their own.

For the next few weeks, we will be working on our math problem solving, printing (some of the kids in my class have beautiful printing already!) and enjoying the warm temperatures outside. Next week I am planning a Sports Day for the whole school, and am excited to see how that turns out. Our school picks one day per year to combine the kids so they work together for a day, and the teachers decided that my idea was good enough to use as our community-building day. Hopefully the athletes get here on time and we can set up enough equipment to have a busy, active day.

Some highlights of the past few weeks:

Finishing report cards! (And having very few mistakes to fix). Something others might not realize about report cards is that they take about half an hour per student- not including assessments, anecdotal notations done previously, etc. They have to be finished a week or two before they go to parents so that administration can read them, then back to the teacher to make changes again. Half an hour isn’t much, but it does add up with 23 kids.

The little guy in my class who didn’t speak much actually had a conversation with me last week- that was pretty huge. It must be so exciting when this happens with your own kids, though I can only imagine if I get this excited for a student in my class. Today he actually played with another student, and named about half the class.

The Kindergarten kids have manners! We have tried from the beginning of the year to make sure the kids know how to ask for help, and how to use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ on a regular basis. Today one of the kids was holding the door open for the others, and most of them thanked them by name as they walked through- without prompting! Another little guy asked me the other day if I could “please help” him zip up his jacket. Then he promptly told me that he was using, “wonderful manners, but I don’t have to use them at home.” I told him that his Mom might be very happy to hear his ‘wonderful manners’ too!

Today one of the assistants was getting the kids undressed after recess, and was trying to hurry as we were supposed to go listen to the choir. The three year old she was helping wasn’t able to get his snowpants off by himself (she had snugged them up tight before he went out!) so she had lifted him up a little and pulled on his snowpants. I turned around just to see his bare bum hanging out- his snowpants had also pulled off his pants and underpants on the way. He thought it was absolutely hilarious, and we thought it was a little funny too.

Oh the fun! This week we will be making some new dinosaur themed snacks (my way of planning a healthy snack for a picky kid- involve them in the planning and making the entire way!) and get to enjoy some time in the library, finger painting and 'clean mud.' More on that next time!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Sports Day and Professionalism

It is already March and I haven’t updated in much too long again. At least my Mom misses my posts!

The last month has been filled with superintendent visits, peer observations, talking to doctors, speech pathologists, behavior consultants, occupational therapists, and some subbing. I’m finally getting to know a few more of the Jr. High students, and they don’t seem to mind me subbing too much. They do spend way too much time trying to make me feel awkward (at which they are quite proficient) though I figure if I can make them feel a little awkward too then I’m still good!

I have been planning a Sports Day for the school, and am really looking forward to bringing some friends out to give the kids a chance to ask questions, try out and just be exposed to some different sports than they’d regularly see in a small town (volleyball/basketball). The teachers are excited, and I know the kids will be intrigued to see high performance athletes from wrestling, gymnastics, parkour, football, wushu and those training for cirque-du-soleil. It should be a fun day that I hope will benefit everyone in some way! It’ll also be neat to see K-12 kids working together for a day.

This post might be a little shorter than usual, mostly because this month has been a challenging one in many ways. It has been very tough to be professional at points, and has been difficult to understand the social systems that are put in place to care for children. There are quite a few foster children in my area, and it is so hard to understand that many times, these children don’t have an idea of what “Mom” or “Dad” is meant to include. It is just a word for them. To see survival instincts kick in on a three-year old is pretty heartbreaking. One little guy knew he was going to another place for the night, and circled the classroom packing his bag full with any food he could find, as he wasn’t sure the next time he would get to eat.

That’s about all I’ve got for now. I feel pretty lucky to have family and friends and consistency in my life, and I suppose all I can try to do for these little guys is show them the same care and consistency that I’m so fortunate to have! 

Monday, 30 January 2012

A Short Update!

I thought I should write a quick note as today was a pretty good day.

On Monday mornings the kids sit down with one assistant and tell her about their weekends. I thought it would be a good way for the kids to get to know the other adults in the room, and to put everyone on the same level (I don't know how I would manage without the assistants in the room- some days it feels like they do more than I do- and it seems that often, classroom assistants really aren't appreciated as much as they should be). Anyways, one little guy was sitting beside her and had a small paper in his hand. I was watching from the other side of the circle, and getting our newest little one settled on an activity. Another assistant beside me began to laugh, and I turned to see the little guy using the piece of paper to simulate shaving his face, very seriously, then his neck, then turned to the assistant beside him and began "shaving" her neck and face as well. It didn't help that we had the giggles by then, and it sure didn't help when another boy noted, "Miss C. has a moustache!" Then, because it got a few laughs, "Miss K. does too!"

We noted later that we both felt a little defensive and self-conscious, then realized how funny it was.

Our newest little guy had a great day, and so did another boy who has been having a tough time settling in lately (also great that the behaviour consultant was in to see him on a great day too).

The best part of the day began during our center time. As I've mentioned before, there are a few children in the class who are just learning english. They are not exposed to it at home, and often, parents don't speak english or read- in english or their first language. This makes it tricky to get permission forms, notices and special event notices out, but we've all managed so far!

One little boy in our class comes from a home where english is not spoken regularly. In fact, we hadn't heard him speak AT ALL, in english or german, except for spelling his name a handful of times. In fact, he had a hard time getting on the bus in the mornings, and for a long time would not even go to the bathroom at school (though we've been working on that with his sister, who has been wonderful). This little guy has a face that hides all expression most of the time, and he either nods 'yes' or 'no', or just stares when asked a question. We've been worried about him, but didn't want to push too hard in case that caused more anxiety than ever.

Today I was in the hallway playing with a girl on our movement center (I bought a mini trampoline for the hallway!) when an assistant called me over. She whispered, "he's talking!" and we watched from a few tables away as the other assistant had the little boy name colors, shapes and letters- all in english. Keep in mind that we hadn't really heard his voice at all, even in his first language much at this point, and only his name spelled out in english about 5 times.

I think all of us had tears in our eyes- this was pretty huge. For the rest of the day, this little boy came out of his shell, and would answer to the adults in the room using words when asked, and even made faces, played and even joked to one of the assistants to "stand up!" when she was crouching down to get the ball during free play. I hope this was the first of many great days for him- it sure made our day/month/year fantastic!

Other than moustaches and talking kids, today I also caught a little girl singing, "Get Low" (a Lil'Jon song, Mom and Dad, you wouldn't like it) and was told that I was the 'best teacher ever' for making the kids snacks out of celery sticks (the fishing rod), cheese whiz (the bait) and goldfish crackers (the fish to catch)!

All in all, a pretty good day. I'm subbing high school tomorrow, so I'd better get my grown-up clothes out, and math reviews started!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Dance Parties, Piglets and Exploding Soap Messes!

It's been a few weeks again and I haven't had much time to update. It has been feeling like the beginning of the school year all over again in some ways, though at least now I have a better grasp on what I should be teaching and where to go next. It's the paperwork that always gets me!

I have a new student, and with him, there will be a new assistant whom I have yet to meet. That makes four adults in the room at any given time, 23 kiddos, and in the mornings, two high school students (work experience) and afternoons, another adult. Not including speech assistants, OTs, behaviour consultants or principals who are in to watch that day. Some days it feels like you're trying to keep from sinking just to keep on top of all of it. Thankfully though, the kids are having fun, learning a little (hopefully a lot) and keep us laughing which is why I ended up here!

Here is my January highlight:

Many of the students in my class live on farms and regularly help out with chores, feeding, etc. One little guy came up to me shortly after the Christmas break and said, "We have some piggies, and Dad wants to know if he can bring them to school."

I thought this was a great idea, and went about arranging this as soon as possible. Then I thought a little more and remembered that this little fella had said, "piggies," plural. So I asked, "how many piglets do you have?"

He looked down at his hands and counted on his fingers silently..."1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12... There's 12!" Oh geez. I had an image of 23 little kids being chased around the room by 12 squealing pigs and had to tell him to ask Dad to bring one or two piglets. (It felt like a Robert Munsch story - which the kids have been really enjoying lately- ONE pig, JUST one, NOT 3, 4, 5, 6 or 12, JUST ONE.)

The day came and the little guy was trying his very best to keep his secret quiet. Then during recess I see Mom, Dad and newborn baby coming up the walkway of the school carrying a large tupperware bin. Inside were these little guys:

Aren't they sweet? The kids were so excited to see them, and the Dad got a huge kick out of letting them out of their bin to run around the classroom and chase kids for a little while. They couldn't get traction on the slippery floor and looked like Bambi on ice until they made it on to our foam carpet. Thankfully, there were no messes (by piglet or kid!) and the kids happily named them Smartie (on the left) and Chocolate Chip (on the right). They were two weeks old and very heavy already. It was really interesting to see which kids were right in the middle, who grabbed the camera, who wanted someone to stand next to them to pet the piglets, and who quickly lost interest and moved elsewhere.

As the kids were hanging out with the piglets, the little guy whose idea it was to bring them in went up to one of the assistants and said, "Them piggies are growin'like a son-of-a-gun!"

I mentioned that we now have two high school students coming in the mornings (one at a time). The first day that they came in, we were having our snack, and I turned on some music for the kids. I should have chosen a different song than Madagascar's "I Like to Move It, Move It," because instead of finishing up their snack, ALL of the kids got up and started to dance. We couldn't help but play the song again and have a good dance party then, and just as the one high school student walked in the door, a little girl came up to me and yelled, "K______! Come dance!" Well....there goes my credibility! (These things have a strange way of happening...)

We did have a great time, and got the kids moving for another few minutes at least! I know that I have a hard time sitting all day during workshops, conferences, etc. and can't believe that we expect kids to do the same. Unfortunately, I think often teachers recognize this as a behaviour issue, instead of a need to move once in a while! In Alberta there is a requirement in the curriculum called 'DPA' or Daily Physical Activity, in addition to recess/lunch breaks. This is built in time meant for kids to get an extra 20 mins or so throughout the day to MOVE! Unfortunately this often gets counted in to recess, walking to library, gym class, etc. This has been a big focus for me this year in recognizing when kids need to move around a bit, and I have been trying to use it in how I say things too, so kids can start to identify between behaviour and need. Often our morning talk, weather and calendar goes just a little too long for the kids (they say that a child's attention span is approximately as long in minutes as their age, so I'm working with 5-6 minutes) so I will try to say, "it looks like you need to get up and move, lets do some counting backwards and go touch 10 things and count down to one," or, "go climb under three things and over three things, then come back." This gives the kids a little break while still learning, and the repetition helps them out in the long run as well.

Once a week the Elementary school teachers get together for a "PLC" or "Professional Learning Community." We focus on certain things and is a way to keep learning new ways of doing things, or at least considering them. Our group has been working on 'student engagement,' or, keeping the students excited about what they are learning and making sure that there are connections being made between past experiences and new concepts being taught. Our job last week was to pair up with a grade other than our own (not difficult, as there is only one class of each grade in our school) and to plan a lesson that will demonstrate student engagement. The other teacher was to come in and observe how the lesson went, and provide feedback. I was paired with my mentor teacher in Grade 2, and we planned a lesson together. My kids haven't had much experience with science yet, as our science curriculum can be summed up as exposing students to new ideas, reactions and questions. In Grade 2, students focus on solids, liquids and gases, and learn a little about the scientific method.

We planned a lesson that used almost all of the 5 senses (a big focus in Kindergarten), as well as some math (graphing) and technology (smartboard and cameras). If you place a piece of Ivory soap in the microwave, it actually expands and bubbles, looking like it's exploding. The result is a very light solid that feels like kleenex, and can be used just like regular soap. It also leaves behind a very distinct soapy smell that is pleasant at first, but gets really gross, fast! Anyways, it all worked out, the vice principal was in to watch our experiment and give feedback, and the other teachers were curious enough during our next PLC that we had to repeat the experiment all over again for them.

This week we're going to make some new snacks (last week we made 'apple teeth' out of apple slices and mini marshmallows), take the kids skating and try out some more centers (this go-round has glittery water in the science table)!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Christmas concert, Kindergarten brunch, holidays and back to it!


It has been a little while and I suppose I should try to make this more of a weekly update, especially now that a few people have told me that they're checking for updates once in a while, maybe I'll be more inclined to write!

The last week before Christmas holidays was crazy. The adults in the classroom managed to get through the week by having a constant coffee and chocolate supply on hand. If you can't beat'em, join'em right? I couldn't blame the kids for being excited though, I was too.

The Christmas concert was a lot of fun, and they were definitely pretty cute! Apparently people at the back could hear the kids singing too and not just me and my half-gone voice. Our little porcupine (albeit almost late to the party!) was perfect in his role, and we had even the quietest, most shy kids onstage with us. Thankfully we were first, and most kids stayed with us to watch the rest of the show afterwards. Seeing kids moved by music is such a neat thing. We've had some really neat moments over the past month that include music, and it has opened up a lot of interesting experiences and ideas for me. Some of the kids (many of the Mennonite children) were completely enthralled hearing other students in the school singing. They didn't move for the entire concert after we were finished.

There is another little one in the class who works with a full-time assistant who has tried out music breaks when being in the class is just too much. He sat listening to a range of music, from opera to pop and books on tape for half an hour straight. This was a huge amount of time for him to be sitting calmly and totally focused on one thing.

I suppose I had better learn a little more about music as I've noticed that many kids seem more focused and productive when there is music in the background of the classroom during activities. I had a prof during one of my first years of university that would play music (a different piece each day, depending on the lesson) as we walked in and out of his classes. It always set the tone for the lesson, even though this was a class of over 400 people, and we were exposed to anything from Mozart to Jiminy Cricket's "When You Wish Upon A Star."

Our Kindergarten brunch was a huge success! It was so much fun to cook with the kids, even though the bread turned out a little tougher than usual due to excessive kneading, and our jello cut-outs ended up frozen then liquified.

*On a side note, I had made 8 batches of bread dough on the weekend (a sweet egg bread that my family calls 'Teddy Bear Bread' and is made every Christmas) and put the batches in freezer bags to rise as I drove back to the town where I teach. I had the dough sitting on the floor of the passenger side, and part-way through my drive I heard a few "pop! pop! pop!" sounds that could have been my tires popping. I looked over to see that the warm air from my heater had been blowing on the dough, causing it to rise to epic proportions and explode the bags wide open! You can bet that dough stayed the night in the fridge after that!

I love parent volunteers. I had a few Moms that came in both days to help out, clean up and lend plates, crock pots, punch bowls, recipes and a lot of patience to the process. They were wonderful. The kids made Christmas tree shaped bread, cranberry orange muffins, jello, cut up apples, pomegranates, fruit dip, hot chocolate and punch. They welcomed their parents (and Grandparents!) and helped to make sure everyone had something to eat. We had about 40 people in our little room, and many families who brought siblings and Grandparents too. Most of our Mennonite families even came, which was very exciting, as many do not speak English and have quite a few little ones to bring with them. It was a really fun celebration. We ended our clean-up with a "pomegranate stain scavenger hunt" (I'm awful I know!) to wipe up any last remnants of our mess...the cleaning staff has more than enough to do this time of year!

On our last day before the break we took the kids to the Grade 9 Science class where the student teacher was demonstrating how to make ice cream with dry ice. I was really worried that the kids would get too excited and try to touch it, so we had a quick safety chat and went over to the room. About half of the kids were terrified, and wouldn't even try the ice cream when invited to. It was a pretty neat thing for them to see, and hopefully we can get in to some of the other classes to see what they're doing as well. The Grade 6 students will be making 'egg parachutes' at some point, and dropping them off the roof of the school, so we'll definitely be watching that one!

After watching ice cream being made, we hopped on the bus and went to see a movie at the theater in town. The movie definitely wasn't my first choice, but the kids enjoyed it, and one little girl (who sat on my lap for half of the movie) very proudly told me at the end that, "I didn't even cry!" We headed back to the school for a pizza lunch, quick recess and an assembly to round out the day. This was the first elementary assembly that the Kindergarten kids have been there, and they behaved really well despite the amounts of junk food eaten that day. I got to give out a few classroom awards to kids who displayed the  "best printing," "best reading," "best manners," and "most gentlemanly" behaviour for that month. Our class also won the "Library Award" as the Kindergarten kids are always "enthusiastic and have great manners" in the library (we've been working on it)!

I received some really wonderful cards and gifts from the kids and their families, and have come to the conclusion that: 1. I smell funny, and 2. that I need more chocolate! There were a lot of lotions, soaps and chocolates for me to enjoy! One really interesting and strange thing about living in a small town is that everyone knows where you live. Sometimes it's not a good feeling that people seem interested even in what groceries you bring home (goodness knows what people think of me carting laundry back and forth on weekends!), but it's also nice to know that people are watching out for you. A "Secret Family" adopted me the week before Christmas, and left a gift each night on my porch for me to come home to. That really blew me away.

It was nice to have a break and though it was hard to come back, the kids didn't forget everything and were really well behaved (though very tired by the end of the day) on our first day back. We went over our rules again, enjoyed the strangely warm temperatures and went OUTSIDE for gym class (unheard of here in January), reviewed our Sound Connections and did some new puzzles. The funniest part of the day was our shaving cream activity. We rolled up sleeves and put a pile of shaving cream on the table in front of each child and let them trace the capital and lowercase letters that they knew. They wrote their names and generally got pretty messy. Thank goodness shaving cream doesn't stain and just wipes away! It was a pretty fun activity, and one that helps out with fine motor development as well...I think the art of teaching Kindergarten must be hiding all of these developmental exercises behind exciting activities! Needless to say, we had most of the staff come by to see why our classroom and all of our kids smelled so darn manly!

The day had its really tough points as well, including parents coming in who do not often have the opportunity to see their child, and are so appreciative that their child has a safe and consistent place to come, and parents calling from the police station reporting a kidnapping when their child is safe at school. There were also calls to try and track down another child who should be at school, but whose family seems to have left without much trace. There have sure been a lot of sleepless nights on my part trying to think of what to do next, how to document things and how I can do the best for each child in the class, so I can only guess what parents go through in tough situations.

One thing I have really noticed in working with kids is that some parents are very disinclined to listen, ask or even speak to me about strategies, because I am young and do not have kids of my own. I was speaking to the classroom assistants about this as well, and one pointed out that I am also not from "here" which makes sense, though this has happened when I coached as well. Unfortunately, I haven't found a kind way to mention to these parents that before teaching I coached for 11 years (18 month-old children - adults), and have had many opportunities to learn strategies and just see what works with different kids. It's all part of proving yourself too I suppose, and this will take time!

A couple funny stories to finish it off:

One little guy came up to a classroom assistant, leaned on her and very sweetly asked, "did you miss me over the holidays?"
She responded with, "Of course I did!"
He then noted very matter-of-factly, "I knew you would."

Another little boy needed help opening his water bottle and stepped in front of one assistant and said, "open!"
She then said, "open what?" (Asking for a 'please'!)
He looked at her, very confused and said again, "open!"
I figured that I should stir the pot a little and whispered, "sesame!"
He then turned to her and said, "open sesame!"
Poor little guy...he did eventually figure out that we were asking for him to use his manners, though it was through no help of mine!

Doing our calendar each day takes a good half hour, as we can incorporate math, literacy, songs, weather, numbers, patterns, printing, etc. into it, so it is quite the production (and has taken me until now to have any sort of system to present it to the kids). The first day back we had some parents in the classroom, just watching what our days are like as they hadn't had the opportunity to come in to our class yet. We were in the middle of our calendar (imagine, it's a new MONTH and YEAR now) and one little girl wanted to help as I sometimes get volunteers to use the pointer to count and help us figure out what kind of movement pattern will be associated with our numbers that month. Well...she came up there and completed our calendar and counting smoother than I have ever done- with the parents still in the classroom watching of course! We had a good laugh as both the assistants and I noted that this little girl should lead calendar every day instead of me!

I have a fun lesson planned for tomorrow afternoon- making pudding in bags, add milk and let the kids squish away until it thickens up (see, more developmental exercises hidden away)! Hopefully it turns out a little cleaner than our shaving cream adventure!

Tomorrow should bring new challenges, and next week again as we get a new student!

Thanks for reading!