Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Four years ago I was placed in a Kindergarten classroom.  It was a whole day, alternate day program and I had over 50 students between my two classes.  Last year I taught Young 5's to one group and Kindergarten to the other.  This year I'm teaching all day Young 5's to just one group of 23.
With double the time and half the students I should feel relaxed.  Nope!
I've tried to learn all I can about writing, after reading the Lucy Calkins Units of Study I wholeheartedly jumped into the workshop.  Each year I've read at least two more books about writing and have tried to learn all I can.  I'm blessed to have a good friend in first grade.  Betsy is a writing teacher extraordinaire and she's so willing to look at anything I need.  I'm not alone. 
This year all Young 5's, Kindergarten and First grade teachers are going to a literacy training program hosted by our intermediate school district.  We've assessed, assessed and assessed.  We've collected data and analyzed data.  And after all this I feel so inadequate.  The program is focused on K and 1st.  We don't really have a young 5s curriculum in our state and the training only addressed our Young 5's questions when we ask and it often feels like they don't know what to say to us.  Maybe that's the root of my problem.
I enjoy teaching writing.  I love helping my students to see they always have a story to tell.  I love seeing them use those new letters and sounds they have learned to make words!  Kids drawing makes me smile.  Why does writing time feel so frustrating? 
Am I pushing Kindergarten down to Young 5's? Am I expecting too much from myself?  Is it report card time and I'm stressed?  Is this the disequilibrium that comes with learning and applying new skills?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Line Leader

Line leader
In my kindergarten classroom I only have one job.  Line Leader!  My students get the glorious privilege of leading the line, holding the flag at pledge, starting the greeting at Morning Meeting and turning the lights on and off when we use the Smart Board. Oh yes, they also get to select the pointer that I will use all day. 
My children only get this glorious honor about 6 times a year.  It amazes me how often my Line Leader has a really rotten day.  Not because they don’t enjoy the prestige, but because they are amazingly naughty!  Today was a good case in point.  O was the leader, and I was nearly ready to put him in a police lineup!  Rude, uncooperative, and just plain defiant.  Why?  I guess I need to think about this a little more. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Year--New Rules

In a week full of  unusually sunny winter Michigan days our room began to look like a disco.  When the sun was pouring in the window the room sparkled. Many of my students were proudly wearing their new clothes they got for Christmas.  The girls were glittery and shiny with spangles and rhinestones.  One girl even had silver sequins on her boots!
 We'd been back from vacation for a couple of days when I noticed some inattentiveness and odd movements among my 5 year olds.  I observed and learned they were pulling the sequins and shiny stones off their new clothes to give to friends.    I was starting to see hurt feelings and knew the parents wouldn't be thrilled with their destruction of their new outfits. Phone calls were sure to follow!
At Morning Meeting the next day I was amused to hear myself declare, "if you find or are given a  shiny piece of someone's clothes you must give it to me."  I added, "I will put it in my pocket and throw it away."  Back in September when we'd created our rules I hadn't seen this coming, but the new rule shut down the trafficking in glitter. 
Parental phone calls were averted.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

This is Not the Day I'd Planned

“Are you terribly busy today Lori?”, without caller id I would not have recognized my elderly mother-in -law’s voice.  I abandoned my computer, with the half written e-mail confirming my late morning meeting for lunch and thrift shop browsing,  I set down freshly brewed tall mug of tea and ignored my pjs and unshowered hair.  My few remaining days of break suddenly had a different schedule.
“No, what’s up?” From the sound of her voice I knew this couldn’t be good.
“Could you come over and make me some toast?” an unheard of request to the most stubbornly independent woman in the county. 
My mind quickly returned to the ten days she’d spent in the hospital in early December, where time and time again she’d relapsed with the stomach flu.
“Sure, what’s going on?” I wondered if I should call for help.
As she explained her long night of illness I quickly added a line to the e-mail, telling my friend I’d contact her if our plans could continue.  I ran to the bedroom and grabbed jeans and sneakers and the closest top, dressing for sick room, not lunch.
As I drove the 5 rural miles I prayed for skill and kindness as I dealt with an uncomfortable situation.  I have a weak stomach and I anticipated a mess when I arrived. 
When I arrived, Midge’s hands were shaking with weakness; she lay on the couch, with walker and cane close by.  I made her tea, and toasted some bakery bread I’d bought earlier in the week.  As I convinced her to eat half a banana and drink some water I wondered how I’d know if she needed to be hospitalized.
I started the washing machine, stripped the bed and gathered up anything that needed to be washed.  As the washing machine swished and rinsed I reflected, someday I will need help too.  When she finished her breakfast I settled in to chat and fetch anything she might need.
Over the next hours as she napped and began to get stronger I thought of the hard decisions that will need to be made in the future.  After a light lunch she encouraged me to go home and “fix your husband’s lunch.”  I struggled not to laugh, my husband has happily made his own lunch for the 17 years I’ve worked in education.  But years of making her farmer husband’s lunch still are clear in her mind. 
As she began to worry that I had work to do at home I agreed to leave for a few hours, and arranged to stop in the late afternoon to deliver a few groceries and check on her. 
After a late lunch and shopping with my friend, I returned to make a light dinner.  As I refilled her water and laid out a snack for the evening I asked if there was anything else I she needed.  Little did I expect the next request to be the most disgusting and dreaded of the day. 
“I think I caught another mouse, could you check and reset the trap?" 
I felt the blood run from my head.  I loathe mice.  That is one task I always leave to my husband!  If he’s gone on a business trip I throw trap and corpse away.  For a moment I thought about pretending the trap was empty.  I really hate mice!  I never do that task!    But now was not the time to explain this. I took a deep breath, smiled and asnwered,“Sure, where is it?”