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!