Saturday, May 16, 2015

The End of My Teaching Career -- Look at Those Faces!


   One month from today I will not set the alarm clock or pack my lunch. I won't wake up early thinking about what I will do in school today.  After 45 years of teaching -- public school, Christian school, home school -- I will be officially retired.  I have to turn in my iPad, clean out my desk, delete all the documents on my computer, give my goldfish away, and say goodbye to daily laughter and sharing life with my dear assistant and friend.
   Although I know it is time for me to step away from assessments and teacher evaluations and observations and faculty meetings and workshops and Common Core and report cards and lesson plans -- all the parts of the profession that I DONT like -- I am having a little trouble stepping away from the actual teaching. I mean, look at these faces!
  

   

  
  
   Teaching kids to read and write stories and introducing them to everything from caterpillars to clouds -- seeing their eyes open to the world around them as they learn about growing seeds and building cubes and ocean life and Pilgrims and so many other things -- well, that is just such a joy!
    I'm not saying that it's all fun and games -- there are fusses and rule-breaking and saying "be quiet, keep your hands to yourself, sit down, stop tattling" about a hundred times a day.  There are kids who never do homework, kids who can't remember what a 4 is, kids who pinch and choke other kids, kids with head lice and pink eye, kids who have parents in jail, kids who need love but show it in the most difficult ways. I come home so tired and drained that I can hardly get off the couch some days. 
   But look at this face! Priceless and worth every hard day when you can see the wonder when they
accomplish something new!  

      So, as I walked through Target this week, I felt a little lost. Nothing I needed to buy, with less than 20 days of school left. Don't need to buy clothes for work. I saw some cute little red polka dotted buckets that I really wanted to buy, but knew that would be crazy. And that stuffed turtle at Kohls would have been great for the Franklin stories and reptiles unit. But I won't be teaching that again.
       Don't get me wrong. I am looking forward to retirement and having time and energy to clean my house and travel with my family and cook meals. I will finally empty the bookcases and closets and baskets full of teaching books and supplies that I have accumulated over the past 45 years. But I have been "Teacher" for so long -- it's who I am -- my identity -- and I don't exactly know who I will be when that is over. I am eager to find my new place in life -- time to read books just for fun, work at church, go to daytime activities, take vacations when everyone else is at school. I'm excited --and tired -- and counting the days. But I will miss my co-workers-- the lunch room ladies that fix my lunch, the custodians who clean my room, the office workers who keep everything running smoothly and intercept phone calls, the teachers who inspire me and especially the hard-working assistants who do so much to make life easier. My own assistant, Mrs. Awesome, is a treasure and the main reason I have kept teaching this long. And the kids who make me want to pull my hair out, beat my head against the wall, and cry -- and who greet me every morning with bright smiles when I walk in, and run to hug me and write love notes.  Look at these faces!!
   

    

   

   

   

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"This is the Best Day Ever"

       "This is the best day ever!" Said one of my little boys today.  I bought 20 plates from Dollar Tree (best teacher store ever) and the kids were decorating them for Mother's Day. Since I could only supervise a few at a time, I let the rest of the kids play with Legos and read books and play with the math stations -- not our usual routine.  The little boy was thrilled to make a plate AND play with Legos --- and that made this his best day.  It made me a little sad to think that kindergarten is so much about reading, writing, and arithmetic that a few minutes of Legos meant so much to him.
       

       As we wind up the school year and start the assessment ordeal, I am trying to add more of the fun stuff that we didn't have time for earlier.  We planted seeds last week, and the kids hurry over to check out their plants when they come in the morning.

  

        I also got out my collection of magnets and amazed the children with the way they could repel and attract, depending on the poles.  (they are so easily amazed -- great fun)

       But the biggest excitement of the week was when I got out the dinosaurs.  I read a book

     I
"If The Dinosaurs Came Back" and the kids were so excited they could hardly sit still and listen to the story.  Probably no one will ever listen to everything I say with such eagerness ever again!  They wrote some great stories about dinosaurs, drew a stegosaurus, and begged to take my collection of dinosaurs outside at recess.

  

       This is Teacher Appreciation week, and I have been surprised to receive flowers and candy and sweet cards, and lunch from McDonalds. It warms my heart to get notes telling me how much their child has learned this year in my class.  Kindergarten is such an amazing time of learning -- they come in as a blank slate, barely able to name some letters and numbers. Now they are writing stories and reading books. One was writng a story today -- she was on the fourth page when the bell rang at the end of the day so she will finish when she gets here in the morning. Incredible!
        Just a little over 5 weeks to go and still so much to do!  But I hope I will take time to have a few more "best days ever" in these last weeks.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wonderful Worms


      Since it was Earth Day yesterday, this seemed like a good time to read our Wonderful Worms book.  I stopped at Walmart on the way to school and bought some big fat night crawlers. The kids questioned me about why they had a plate at their seat, since it was not snack day.  I read the book and showed a great video about the wonder of worms, then I gave each of them a night crawler on their plate to examine.  Some were eager to pick them up, but a few-- not so much.  We made charts to describe worms, they compared sizes, and gave them a name. It was great fun, and I got several hugs for being the best teacher ever -- and here are a few pictures.  Can you guess which ones were not worm lovers?

   

   


   

   

   

   Now they are writing "Worms are cool." 
   But also crawling around on the floor instead of sitting -- oh, well!

   

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I Want to be an Astronaut (NOT!)

     

     Today at Valmead we had the privilege of having a real live astronaut at our school.  Not only was it cool having a celebrity, but he really knew how to keep an audience of little kids interested. Our astronaut, Duane Carey, flew on the Space Shuttle Columbia.



    He showed a video he made during his flight demonstrating how they ate and slept and used the bathroom in space -- all things the kids were interested in.
 
    

    He answered their questions, and when one little boy asked what it was like to blast off into space, he brought him up front and showed what it was like with vibrations and pressure. He told how the astronauts have to wear a diaper -- ew -- while they are waiting for the launch because they can't get up and go to the bathroom then.



    After the presentation, I took the children to the playground where they pretended to blast off into space and everything on the playground became a rocket ship.

   
   

   


   After playing, the children drew pictures and wrote stories about the astronaut. Some were so enthusiastic that they asked for more paper so they could write a second page!!


    




    On the way to the bus, one of my little boys said,"I want to be an astronaut when I grow up!" We are thankful to Mrs. Mood for arranging this inspiring event.

    


   

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Happy Easter Egg

       

          Spring break is finally here!   
          It has been a busy, fun-filled week in kindergarten. We interrupted our insect study to concentrate on Easter for this week.  I read lots of good books -- everything from the Ressurection of Jesus -- the real reason for Easter -- to Easter Bunny and Ukranian egg decorating and egg hunts.
I brought my hand-painted Ukrainian eggs that I got when I went on a mission trip to Ukraine a few years ago. I read the Patricia Polacco book, "Rechenka's Eggs" 
   

        One of the highlights was coloring the eggs.  The children are always amazed to see the eggs dyed into beautiful colors. They all gathered around to table to see the transformation and make me feel like a magician.

   
     Look at all those boys!
      I took the eggs to the lunchroom and let them peel off the colorful shells and eat them. I was surprised that some have never seen a boiled egg before -- one brought the yolk to me to ask what it was.
    
     
      But the BIG EVENT was the egg hunt today.  I had several moms and other volunteers come  to hide hundreds of eggs in the school yard while we were at lunch. And, oh, the excitement!!








   Everyone had a big bag of candy-filled eggs to take back to the classroom. I let them sit down and feast on the candy -- they were all going home in an hour -- then they wrote about the egg hunt in their journals.   I love this one.

      I am looking forward to celebrating the Resurrection with my family, then working on my "to-do" list. I've signed my retirement papers, and I need to start figuring out what I am going to do with the tons of teaching materials I have accumulated over the past 45 years...
       Happy Easter!  He is risen!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Dr. Seuss and Cat in the Hat

       We celebrated Read Across America and the birthday of Dr. Seuss this week. I love sharing some of my favorite Dr. Seuss books with the class -- the same ones I read to my own children many years ago. One of my favorites is The Sneetches - I have a ratty old copy that used to be at my mother's house. Every time we came for a visit, the kids would get it out and ask their Grammie to read it to them. I read Yertle the Turtle and Horton Hatches the Egg and Green Eggs and Ham, and several others.  

   Dr. Stone, our school superintendent, came to Valmead and read a Dr. Seuss book to my class. Doesn't he look nice in his red and white hat?

  
       Mrs. Austin created a bulletin board so we could display a few stories written my my class.  I am so happy to see the progress they have made in writing. We write every day, and it is really paying off. Some are writing 2 or 3  pages at a time now.

        

   
  

     I found a cute little snack idea on Pinterest -- the class enjoyed this version of green eggs and ham.


     We also made hats -- the children like to wear them down the hall.


   A few parents came to our Dr. Seuss Parent Night on Monday -- everyone who participated had a good time, and the children all got a free book to take home. 
    Next week we will start learning about St. Patrick's Day and soon will celebrate the first day of spring and Easter.  The few warm days we had this week make us eager to be finished with the snow and cold.  The school year is 2/3 of the way finished -- just a little more than 60 days of school left, but still more to learn before they are ready for first grade!