Be all that you can be. Find your future--as a teacher.

Musings of a second-year teacher.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Little Humor Makes Up for a Lot of Hassles...

There is never a dull moment in Kindergarten. Today was a day where I found myself "collecting" a lot of my students' quotes. I thought maybe it would be a good time to share a light-hearted post with my readers and fellow teachers. (A little humor is needed at this point in the year- I think the kids and teachers are eagerly anticipating summer vacation!)

My students often have comments to make about my appearance. They are brutally honest, so I never lack for feedback on anything new I may try with my hair/make-up/outfits. Today, I tried out a new lavendar eye-shadow (which, if I may say so, I thought looked rather nice). The minute one of my little boys walked in, he looked at me and said, "Do you have polish on your eyes? They're pink!"

Oddly enough, it seems my little boys have the most to say about my appearance (go figure). My kids are quite sweet and like to shower me with notes daily (which means they are writing independently-yay!) Today, I received a note from a little boy that said, "I love you. You are pretty." I receieved a note last week that said, "Your a good tchr. You r pruty." My job's on the line this year- do you think I could use that note to support my teaching efficacy?

While my students' notes provide endless smiles, their actions tend to provide giggles, gasps and groans. Yesterday, we switched seats for the last time of the year. A few students were absent and I had some overly eager kids volunteer to clean out the desks of those students. One unlucky volunteer discovered the value of organization while cleaning out a desk. After pulling out multiple papers, loose markers, and four half-empty raisin boxes, she discovered a magnificent treasure- a "fuzzy" apple! Yes, dear readers, I had a student store an apple core in the back of her desk. You can give me your best guess as to how long this apple had been molding in the back of her desk...obviously more than a day or two from the green mold that covered the entirety of the apple. Once again, this is something that was never covered in any of my education classes. I now know that I need to specifically remind students not to store extra snacks inside their desks...

I'll leave you with one last tidbit for the night. As I've said before, kids are brutally honest. As I'm sure you also know, students come in all shapes and sizes. I have tiny students, short students, tall students, and a few students who could probably share clothes with me... I overheard one student say to another student today, "Your tummy feels like jello!" Thankfully, in addition to brutal honesty, kids are also still blissfully ignorant and unaware of our society's views on size. Both students seemed to find this remark hilarious and I, personally, enjoyed the complete truthfulness of the statement. (Because honestly, a little extra chub DOES feel a little like jello!)

Oh, the joys of teaching!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Potty-Training Not a Pre-req?

I'm on a roll tonight, so I'll throw in one more blog entry. I've got to share my latest complaint about Kindergarten: the bathroom. Somehow, in the midst of lesson planning, web quests, curriculum evaluations, and portfolio-creating, my college education failed to acknowledge a significant problem with Kindergartners: their inability to properly use the bathroom.

Now, I realize that this (hopefully) does not apply to teachers in other grades. But I spend a heck of a lot more time dealing with "bathroom issues" during the day than anything else and not once was this covered in my education classes. I feel that you should be warned that you will not have time to implement that creative, wonderful, ingenious lesson plan because you will be too busy cleaning pee off the bathroom floor or calling a custodian to your bathroom for the third time in one day. Seriously...I understand that I work with little children, but is it too much to ask for a day where no one pees on the bathroom floor?

As if dealing with pee on the bathroom floor isn't enough, I've had a repeat offender in the accident department. Unfortunately, he doesn't like to tell me when he's had an accident. I have to sniff him out. And even when asked, he won't admit what's happened. So, I spent a good deal of last week playing "investigator" to determine the "odor-offender" and then determine why he hadn't gone to the bathroom. It's difficult because I don't want to jump on students if there is a medical problem causing these accidents. However, I also don't want students to learn the behavior of waiting until the last minute to go to the bathroom and then having an accident. I seriously think it would have been useful to have a class that prepared you for the best way to discuss "your child's inability to make it through a school day without having a smelly accident" with parents. Alas, that was not offered at my college...

Perhaps one day, when I have exhausted myself as a classroom teacher, and desire to move onto different things, I will petition for more practical classes to be included in a college education. In addition to How-to-tell-a-parent-their-Kindergartner-MUST-be-potty-trained, I would like to see the class How-to-tell-a-parent-their-child-should-not-have-to-wake-them-up-in-order-to-get-to-school-on-time, How-to-find-time-to-teach-around-constant-mandated-assessments, and Be-Your-Own-Psychic: Predict-what-mundane-thing-parents-will-get-mad-at.

All jokes aside, there is quite a lot to be said for experience and the practical knowledge you gain from teaching that you cannot prepare for by reading a book. And while I must occasionally complain about the pitfalls of teaching, there are quite a few rewarding moments as well. All I can say the time I get around to having my own children, I think I will have learned all the ways NOT TO and TO parent...I'll be prepared!

The future of reading: Literacy Centers?

Once again, I've failed on my promise to maintain regular updates. Once again, it's almost the end of the year and I've barely updated about my class. But yet again, I'll leave you with a quick blurb and hope to update before another three (or four, or five) months go by.

While I have quite a few topics I'd love to elaborate on, I must narrow it down to one. So tonight, I'd like to mention my school's recent "discovery" of literacy centers. With a new principal and a new county superintendent, there have been lots of changes within our school this year. One of our principal's goals was to re-vamp the way we teach reading. We are currently using a Harourt series which has some good information, but we could definitely add something to our reading program.

At a county-wide meeting, we discovered another school had implemented "literacy centers" in their Kindergarten classroom. I suppose the idea of literacy centers is not a new one, however, the idea of trying something this independent with Kindergartners scared me. Literacy centers seemed like the answer to my dilemma of "how do I keep all my students engaged in activities that are individually challenging?" As a Kindergarten teacher, I have found it incredibly difficult to break lessons down and give students assignments that are appropriate for their skill level when they are unable to read directions, unable to remember more than two directions at once, and generally unable to work independently. However, the teachers that implemented literacy centers said that after a few rough weeks of learning the routine, their classrooms had adjusted nicely and were doing well with literacy centers. Fortunately, our principal let us go observe these teachers to truly see how literacy centers looked. I was amazed at how quiet, calm, and focused these students were!

I am excited to possibly try literacy centers in my classroom next year, yet I am still skeptical. I am rarely able to get all my students completely quiet. I have tried, and tried, and TRIED to teach them the importance of listening at the appropriate times and being quiet at the appropriate times, but it seems impossible. I'm still not sure how much of this is due to the "chattiness" of my students and how much of it is due to my need for more classroom mangagement experience...hopefully, either way, I'll luck out with a well-behaved class next year (a girl can hope, right! :) )

I'm interested to hear from others who have tried literacy centers in K. How have they worked for you? What lessons have you used? How did you teach the routines? What are your rules and routines? Also, on a whole different tangent, how did you fund your supplies? We have no extra money at our school to buy supplies for literacy I'm curious what alternative methods are out there. seems like an interesting site and I'd like to learn more about.

That's all for tonight! I'd love to hear your thoughts on literacy centers...share them all!:)