Saturday, June 13, 2015

My Unfavorite Things -- part 2

    Nothing left to do but finish cleaning out my room -- school is out and my retirement will be effective after Monday.  I have loved being "Teacher" to so many little ones.  It was such a privilege to teach them to read and write stories -- that was one of my favorite things.

              Our retirement luncheon at school was today, and I wrote some new lyrics to sing to
 "My Favorite Things" to reflect  the parts of the job that I will NOT miss!

Head lice and pink eye and kids late for classes,
Nose bleeds and scraped knees and broken eyeglasses,
Morning bus duty until the bell rings,
These are a few of my Unfavorite things.

Faculty meetings and EOG testing,
Workshops and SIOPS and no time for resting,
Making up snow days and writing PDPs,
These are a few of my Unfavorite things!

When I miss you,
As I might do,
When I'm feeling sad,
I'll simply remember my Unfavorite things
And then I won't feel so bad!!

         Writing this blog is another of my favorite things -- and getting to know some amazing teachers through their blogs.  Last week I was looking for a certain Heidisongs paper for my class to do, and I could not find it anywhere. I looked in the file cabinets and computer documents and was about to give up. But I took a chance and sent Heidi Butkus a message through Facebook.  I knew she was not teaching this year, but didn't really expect a response in time to help that day. But to my surprise, she sent me a link right away so I could print it off that morning! Wow!  I told my class that the paper was from the same Mrs. Heidi that we had just been singing sight words with on the screen.  One little boy said, "You mean she is real??? I thought she was dead!!" Heidi even offered to Facetime with us, but we just ran out of time.  Technology is amazing, but the teachers using it are even more amazing!
      So, I don't know if I will have anything else to blog about since I will no longer be growing my kindergarten, but I expect I will keep reading other blogs.  And when I start volunteering in the fall, who knows? Maybe I will have more stories to share!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

My Unfavorite Things

    Curriculum maps, parent notes, a child's writing saying "my mom is as hot as a fire", Mailbox magazines, instructional plans, an envelope full of Apple cut-outs, a sweet card from my assistant -- these are just a few of the things I have pulled out of the trunk in my living room.
    I haven't even started on the basement yet -- where the majority of my school stuff is stashed.
Or the shelves in my bedroom.  Or the trunk of my car. Or various other shelves and baskets and closets all over my house.  For 45 years I have saved everything that I might use someday in my classroom. I have a starfish I got from someone's trash. Some wool from a sheep.  A crate full of dinosaurs.  Enough certificates and stickers for every child in the school. And books!! Do I have books!!
Every professional book I ever read about on someone's blog -- I bought them all.  Daily 5 -- 1st and 2nd edition. How to teach guided reading groups.  How to set up math stations. How to teach writing to kindergarten kids who can't even write their name.  How to show the wonder of nature.  Art books. How to draw books. Whole Brain Teaching. I could start my own library.
    But my biggest challenge so far -- sorting picture books. Yesterday after school I started with 3 crates of books. I was going to take out a few that I wanted to keep, and donate/sell/give away the rest. But as I started pulling out the books, I went off into a world of memories -- and ended up with a huge crate of favorite books that I didn't want to part with.  Stories that I read to my own children or books that I read to my class -- I could hear the children's applause in my mind as I remembered reading some of them.  I know my husband will not understand if I start hauling things home -- especially since I have no grandchildren to share them with -- but how can I sing "Let It Go!" when I am not ready? I have throw away, give away, and keep piles -- but the keep pile is too big. 
    Yesterday I started cleaning out my desk.  I put items in a tub and let the children choose one to take home. Some of the things -- a jingle bell left from Polar Express Day, some glasses with a nose attached, a giant penny that I used before the common core eliminated the money unit from the curriculum, combs that I bought to use when mom forgot to comb hair -- especially on picture day. 
Dr. Seuss erasers. Some matchbox cars.  A couple sets of magnetic letters. The kids were thrilled and so was I -- a few less things for me to pack up. Why oh why am I such a pack rat??
    The next week is going to be hard -- not because of graduation on Wednesday, but because I have to pack up my classroom and turn in my iPad and key to my classroom. I want to retire -- I am tired of leson plans and assessments and evaluations and workshops and head lice and documenting intervention and surveys and opening ketchup packages and all the things that suck the joy out of teaching. But even with all those UNFAVORITE things, I have loved teaching. I love the kids and my assistant and I will miss them most of all. But for now, I have a lot more sorting and packing up to do.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Making the Ordinary Come Alive

       One of my friends posted this "Make the Ordinary Come Alive" on Facebook yesterday, and it really hit home with me. I think that is probably the very best part of teaching kindergarten -- the opportunity to lead the children to "find the wonder" in ordinary things.
     This is the last full week of school -- next week will be a short week with "Water Day" and graduation and the last half day when most of my children will not come,  I realized that I still had not taught them about the rocks!! So, although the library is closed now, I went down after the librarian was gone and quietly pulled the best rock book ever "If You Find a Rock"off the shelf and took it to my room without checking it out. (Sorry Mrs. L. -- I brought it back today!)  I introduced the topic with "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" -- another of my old favorites.  They were very engrossed in the story, but when I told them we were going to find out about rocks, I saw no excitement at all -- in fact, they looked totally bored with the idea. Rocks? Who cares about rocks?

     But when I read the story about different kinds of rocks -- skipping rocks, climbing rocks, splashing rocks, a wishing rock, writing rocks, etc. -- and pulled out the treasures from my rock collection -- the excitement started to build. Suddenly everyone wanted to feel the smooth black rock and the chalk rock.  The geode was amazing with the beautiful crystals inside the ugly ordinary looking rock. I let each one chose a rock to draw and they wrote a description -- including what made their rock cool.

     Now I have to pull them away from the display of rocks -- they crowd around every time they get a chance using the magnifying glass to get a closer look.  Some brought in rocks they found at home to show me today.Once again, the ordinary has come alive for them.

    Since we studied about insects, it is not unusual to see three or four of them gathered around watching an ant or a pillbug on the playground. Today I saw one on my boys crouched down on the floor studying a beetle that crept into our classroom.

     Helping them find the wonder in God's creation is so much fun for me.  I come home and tell my husband all about it -- and write a blog about it -- and I am really going to miss that.  Their eyes are suddenly open to the wonders of the world around them -- earthworms, clouds, penguins, turtles, insects, leaves, seeds, starfish and rocks -- so many marvels!! Its like the light suddenly turns on and they see these ordinary things in a whole new way. And for me, that is truly EXTRAORDINARY!