Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Carving a Pumpkin...

Well, I have been complaining to myself about how few interesting activities I have been able to plan to do with this kids. Things that make them excited and motivated to learn about things so I decided to do something that I have never done before...carve a pumpkin. I may be an American citizen but I wasn't born here and did not grow up with any of these traditions and frankly as adorable as all these pictures of kids with pumpkins look I also think it is kind of an odd thing to get so excited about. Then again I have never done it so maybe I shouldn't prejudge an activity I have never participated in.

The past couple of weeks personally have not been great. My sciatica pains are improving but it can still be painful to walk or sit or stand for long periods so work has been crazy. I have not been at my best with the kids so I also did this as a bit of a make up activity for my lack of enthusiasm about the things we are doing lately. I truly think some of these children were sent by the good Lord to test my patience and others as a gift. Some of these children are so bright and interested in everything going on around them it astounds me and makes me want to do more for them, so I sent my poor, already over worked mother out in search of a pumpkin. (Driving around and carrying things are sadly not allowed in my condition, so my mom who is probably the nicest person I will ever know volunteered to find a pretty pumpkin to use.)

I had perfect attendance of course, I have almost always had perfect attendance for some crazy reason I do not understand and don't always want to have. The kids noticed the big pumpkin almost immediately along a with a baby pumpkin my mom thought to bring for me to cheer me up and got super excited, which may not have been the best way to start the day. They were talkative most of the day and drove me bananas, so in the afternoon when I got ready to carve I called up only a handful of students to help me with the prep work.

They all got to feel the outside of the pumpkin and touch the seeds before putting them in a wet paper towel and a baggie to see them grow into a plant. It was awesome to see how some of them reacted to the inside of the pumpkin, a large number of them had never felt a real pumpkin before let alone seen the inside of one. I often forget that the population of children I teach has such a specific field of reference and while some of them at five and six have lived through things that would curdle my blood, some of these simple and sweet things most people experience as babies or small children they do not get. It is always awesome to see a child experience something new. Their little eyes light up and their smile is wider, it's one of the reasons I love teaching and sharing these kind of experiences with others.

I guess my own physical pains have reminded me of some of the reasons why I do what I do and have made me realize that if I am not happy with what I am doing I need to change it. Just as I always tell people if you don't like what you are doing YOU are the only one that can change it. I need to follow my own advice, so let's see what fun ideas I can come up with for November and December my most favorite months of the year... :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Feeling the strain

I haven't written in forever. It seems that no matter how much work I get done there always seems to be more. Between centers and weird writing lesson plans and all the things people want me to do I think I am going to lose my mind.

I still have 26 kids and now all on my own for sure. I wish that I could say that I am doing a phenomenal job in teaching these children but I am always behind. I am not doing the million things that are even on my lesson plans because I spend too much time trying to keep the children in order. I am resenting all the people giving me advice on handling my class when they are not in my shoes each and every day. While one kid is throwing a fit another one is hitting one on the back and running away and I am left to wonder where to turn to and which situation to handle first.

There are some days when all I want to do is cry and let them run all over me but then I see my good kids. The ones that are always sitting up nice and tall waiting to hear directions and I tell myself for those kids I need to try. I need to get over myself and teach the lesson on my plans. When I do this I know for a fact that there will be a bunch of kids not listening to directions or doing whatever they feel like instead of getting the education they come to school to get. It depresses me to think that I am working as hard as I am and still only a few of the goals will be met. I keep telling myself that if they know all their letters and sounds and how to write the numbers to 20 I will be happy, but this is a sad  little goal. I have children in that class that are already reading small words and that have a high level of comprehension but I have so many more that can barely write their first name legibly (or not at all) who may not even reach that small goal.

This year is depressing to think about but sitting here in bed while I try to get over a sciatica flare up there is very little else to think over. Maybe I should just read a book....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My view on centers

I can honestly say I love the idea of centers. Whether or not these children or my reading coach will like the way I do centers is always the toss up. I like being able to work with a small group and get to better understand my students' strengths and weaknesses. (The things they say in small groups are also hilarious!)

So tomorrow I go in to start explaining how centers will work to these 5 year olds who have just gotten used to who class instruction. I am taking deep breaths and hoping that the activities I have chosen are interesting enough to keep their attention and that most will remember the directions. My biggest concern is that the centers themselves need to be self-explanatory or quick to explain since the children can't read any directions and I can't seem to find a way to make all my directions in picture format.

I am rambling and rambling on and on but the last time I taught kindergarten was the first time I had centers up and running like clockwork. So why ramble and get nervous? Well....this will depend on a co-teacher that has never taught reading before so I will have to given him a list of activities to do with the kids in his groups. Also...I have 24-26 kids in the room so movement and having someone in charge of each group will be very important to making this work. I can't run around cleaning up after each group or that's all I will be doing.

I feel tired just thinking about beginning this mission. I also think it is odd to do centers when in all honesty most of my kids are exactly in the same place. All need to learn letters and sounds. I really only have three or four who already know this and are ready to begin blending sounds into words and I guess for them is why I would like to start centers in the first place. It will give me a chance to get them to practice reading with me and reviewing sight words. I guess I wish me luck and may hte force be with me.

P.S. Friday was a pretty great day!!! We got tons of work done, I had very few behavior issues, and then my great day got interrupted by a data chat at the very end of the day where I was made to feel that either everything I am doing sucks or is not good enough. Being at this school feels like such a chore at times even when the kids are at their best. Oh well! Need to lift the spirits and focus on having a great week.