Saturday, March 31, 2012

What I've Learned

Thank you for The Slice of Life.  I have learned so much.  Now I need to decide how to apply this in kindergarten writing. 
Have a list of writing ideas for those days you just can’t think of a thing to write.  I know some teachers have their students bring in pictures, but I’m in a low income school and I doubt that many children have photos of themselves, and I worry about the foster kids who don’t have many personal items.
Write even when it is hard.  Sometimes the thing that makes it hard to write is the thing I most needed to write about.
Be brave!  Pull out those memories and look at them!
I think I’ll try the Tuesday challenges.  Thanks for the wonderful experience!  I still can’t believe I did this for 31 days! 

Friday, March 30, 2012


I hear the thunder overhead and the house rattles with the booms, the sky is grey and the passing cars are punctuated by that unique splashing sound a wet pavement gives.  I love rainy days.
 After the beautiful summer-like weather we had last week I’m probably one of a few people who think this is a wonderful way to start a spring break.  As a kid being raised on a farm I knew the need for rain.  The pasture might be over grazed, the pond a little low.  The corn was curling in the hot dry summer.  A good year of well-timed rain could mean good third and fourth cuttings of hay, an assurance we wouldn’t have to buy expensive hay for the cows.
My dad was an independent roofer.  He worked out of our home, and rainy days often meant the phone rang. Mom would answer the ringing phone, the family would quiet as she'd answer; she’d take down phone numbers and addresses and make appointments for estimates.   The family would smile at the messages she would take, people who wanted Dad to come right now in the driving rain, in the thunder and lightning to fix their leaking roof.  Rain kept both family businesses providing for us. 
Rain, the giver of work and prosperity also caused Dad and the whole family to have a relaxing day together.  Unless there was an inside barn project Dad would be in the house with us, he wouldn’t be working in the field, and he wouldn’t be putting a roof on either.  A rainy day was a joy in many ways.
Now Dad is gone, and my brothers answer the phone calls.  The land is still farmed, but now it gives Mom a yearly rental income.  I’m a teacher with students who need to go out to run off some energy on the playground.  Rainy days are not quite so relaxing and calm with 26 kids who’ve just watched a movie instead of playing hard. 
Today is the start of spring break.  I have a cup of tea and a quiet house.  I love rainy days.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What is Today?

This week is the longest short school week.  I did conferences until eight pm Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Today we saw students until 12:00 and then after a lunch break we had conferences again until four.  I'm home now and I keep thinking today is Friday.  Well it sort of is.  We don't have school again until April 9.
 I may be rested up again by then.
At sometime during the 43 conferences I started to feel like I didn't know who I was talking to.  I tried to keep good notes of things I promised to people.  Notes of who mentioned family situations I should remember.  But right now, all I can remember are the oddly funny things parents say to me.  I wonder if I would have found them funny a week ago.  Maybe after a good night of sleep I'll slice them.
Now all I have to do is remember to remove the 5:30  weekday alarm setting.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Today I sent G to the "thinking spot."   Something amazing happened!  She sat and thought!  I think back to the first days of school when she hit, yelled, spit and rolled on the floor.  Today she got in trouble on the playground, but when we talked she knew what she'd done wrong!  She had to sit out for 5 minutes during play time, but she sat without screaming.  I don't think I've every been so proud of a child in "time away!"
This event makes me so happy I'm going to move up with this class.  I teach in a current full day alternate day program, but next fall we'll be all day, every day.  G is in my Young 5's section and I've been campaigning to have her and my whole class loop up with me.  Yes I'll have to add a few more students, but the ones I know will be able to set the pace for our 7 or 8 new ones. I hope since G and I have a relationship we can start strong next year and make even more progress.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Book Grandma

I’m a displaced librarian in a kindergarten classroom.   I love where I’ve landed and I still have a deep love for special children’s books.  I also have 2 grandchildren.   I  live 1200 miles away and I want them to know me. I can't be there to babysit or take shopping so I’ve decided I’ll be the book grandma.  When I buy books for my students I often feel compelled to buy another copy for Lucy and Michael. 
Several years ago as I rushed to Amazon the day the ALA announced the Caldecott award, I got hooked by the “customers who bought this also purchased” link.   I discovered a love for the picture books of Emily Gravett.  My first love was Odd Egg, next was Wolves, my latest loves are Monkey and Me,  Again!, Dogs and most recently Wolf Won't Bite.
Today as I talked to our son I had to ask which Gravett books I’d already bought for the babies. I've already celebrated St. Patrick's Day with books, now on to Easter!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Now I Know Why

One of the reasons I joined the Slice was to put myself in my student's shoes.  I was interested in my having to write every day, even when I knew I wouldn't want to write!  A couple of days ago I had a rough day.  I'd been assessing all day, so my students were really off schedule and I went home, ignoring the good scores, just worrying about all the assessments I had to cram in during the next weeks.  Which will lead to more crazy days!  And no teaching...but that's another post.
I got home to find my husband had had one of the worst days ever.  Then our daughter called to tell of her difficult day.
Guess what?  My slice was nearly impossible to write.  And my students?  They come from homes where Mom and Dad are fighting.  The rent's overdue.  There's no money for food and the check isn't due for days!  Is it any surprise that some days my kids just sit and struggle to put pencil to paper?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Get Away From Me!

"Get away from me!"
Probably not words to earn me mother of the year.  But delivered to a 23 year old with a smile might at least keep me off the top ten worst moms list.
My daughter works in social services and she is in close contact with people all the time.  A  bug has been making the rounds of the staff of her office.  The symptoms include a stuffy nose, headache and NO voice.
This morning she walked into my room to announce in a whisper that she now had the bug.
The next three days I will be teaching full days and holding 43 conferences before and after school.  I'm even seeing parents during my planning period and lunch!
I can not be sick.
From a distance I made her a cup of tea and offered her Tylenol. I'll give her sympathy and comfort food, but no hugs today!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Should I Try?

I teach in a small town of about 18,000 people.  We are about 45 minutes from three larger metropolitan areas.  In the past few years we have seen an increase in ESL students in our schools.   It amazes me how well children adapt and learn language, especially in a kindergarten setting.  The burden I have in my heart is for the parents.  We do not have support for parents to learn English, and they struggle with the language. 
In recent years I’ve been able to travel with my husband on several business/pleasure trips.  As we’ve traveled in Europe we’ve had some amazing experiences.  We’ve always stayed in hotels where the staff spoke English.  We’d often take side trips with English speaking guides and occasionally we’d venture off alone confident we’d find many helpful people who speak our language.  Although the day we got on the wrong bus in France, we weren’t sure this was the case. We did learn if you stay on a city bus long enough you eventually get back to where you got on!  And if all else fails, we can pull out a MasterCard and buy our way back to comfort and security.
     Even traveling with few frustrations and fears I’m always struck with the relief I feel when I return home confident in my knowledge of the customs and communications I face.  I’m very aware how difficult it is for parents when they don’t have communication skills or anyone to readily assist them.  I’ve seen parents pull their child out of school to interpret when they go to the doctor. I see the stress on parent's faces when they struggle to make themselves understood.  While our school does have an Instructional Aide who speaks Spanish she is only available for conferences and other informal communications.  For the majority of their lives the parents who don’t speak English face many struggles.  Our small community does not have a resource for parents to learn English.
     I’m free in the summer, and I really do better when I stay with a schedule. Work with a purpose keeps me energized.   In past years I’ve worked with a student or two needing reading help.  Am I crazy to attempt, as a non-Spanish speaking person to attempt to teach English to adults?  The Instructional Aide said she has a list of people who want to learn.  I don’t need compensation.  Our public library has space; I might even be able to use a room at school.  I guess I just need courage, and the confirmation that it is possible for me to do a good job.

Friday, March 23, 2012

What emotion do I Avoid?

I avoid anger.   I don’t have a good reason for this.  My parents rarely argued and had a good relationship.  I have wondered with my sister if the reason I fear anger is I never really saw it expressed and worked out.  I have four siblings and really only one of us is good at expressing strong feelings.  With my friends at work I admit I’m a wimp and that I avoid conflict whenever I can.
Maybe I’m afraid of rejection.  I don’t want to chance making someone angry because I don’t want to chance being rejected by them.  Or if I express my anger maybe someone will reject me.