Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Last Day

So many thoughts and feelings accompany the end of a school year.

1. What a neat group of kids that I got to watch transform from kindergartners into almost second graders.

2. Did I teach enough curriculum?

3. Did I love them enough?

4. Will they be ok this summer?

But the end has come and I must put those thoughts away. I must now believe that I did all that I could with what I had and that it was enough.

What I will remember:

1. Hugs from a friend that gave them when I most needed them.

2. The spark of "ahah" when a friend  finally got how to read.

3. Sand pies, pizzas and cakes at recess. Made lovingly for me. I savored each one.

Memories of today...

That is enough. I am blessed. 
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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Craft, Art, and the Balancing Act

Teaching is a work of Craft. Knowing how to follow a prescribed scope and sequences, use district curriculum, and incorporate Teaching Best Practices.

It is also a work of Art. I get inspired by my coworkers and bloggy friends and then my creative juices get flowing.

So, the Balancing Act. Allowing my classroom to reflect my craft and my art.

This year has been a lot about learning a Craft. It has been challenging, and rewarding. And much of the time overwhelming. I have high expectations for myself, and this year has felt like taking a college class and not knowing how to get to the end. 

I am hopeful that I can use what I learned this year and create next year to flow smoothly. To have a classroom that is full of Craft and Art.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Hero

So many heroes.

For various reasons.

My hero today is 6 years old.

Lately I have been feeling pretty discouraged with education. I LOVE my class and teaching first grade sooooooo much, but the other stuff is just getting me down.

Today I decided to have a good day. I made a plan for some challenging kids. I was consistent. I allowed for some fun.

And by recess time we were ready to let out some energy. 

Love the farm yard, the picking grass and feeding it to our calves. And also the chickens.

That's when the kids noticed an egg on the ground in the chicken run. And since we were wearing our chore boots (thanks to some recent rain, and me not wanting to get THAT much sand in our classroom), I unlocked the run and sent in an eager first grader to retrieve that egg.

Not to be outdone, other friends looked into the hen house and convinced me to let them in there. Again, easy decision--they had on chore boots. 

Two girls went in. One came out with 2 eggs. 

I stood on the outside. Looking in.

Making sure no hens escaped. Because that's what I do.

The other girl was working with a stubborn hen. She was in her box, and just didn't want to move.

The girl prodded. Made noise. And then got brave. She shoved her hand under the hen, but quickly brought it out again. (This is why I do not like gathering eggs--protective hens that do not give up their eggs without a good pecking.)

She looked at me. I was no help. Gave no advise. Was ready to give up, go away and let that hen have her egg.

But that brave girl gently reached in, picked up that hen (like she's done that before) and carefully placed her on the floor. Went back and got two eggs.

I looked at her with awe. Admiration. Pride.

And now I know who I'm calling to help me with weekend chores for the next 6 or more years!

My Hero.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015


A glimpse of morning chores at my school...

And it has nothing to do with sharpen your pencil, read a book, use the restroom.

I'm talking about...

Feeding and watering the calves.

Feeding and changing the water for the chickens and the ducks.

And checking on the pigs (make sure they have water, their ears are up, count how many there are, and that the gate is locked--pigs are smart and escape you know).

Kids came running back to me--there are NO pigs! What? Did they escape? I went with them to check it out.

[I knew they had left the night before to go to the Heavenly Harvest Home, but I felt like messing with my kids.]

When we got to the pen, I said, "what do you mean there are no pigs? I see three laying in there. Wait, one is getting up." Kids in disbelief are saying "NO!" I continued, "Sure, there is one, and now another is getting up." Now I had a friend join me. He said, "oh, I see it." He was not fooling, so I was wondering what he saw. Any way, this continued a bit, then I went back to the calves.

Later a sweet friend came to me and said--"the gate is open! That is how they got out! Come and see."

Even later--kids were looking for signs. They found "footprints" and looking into the hedgerow, they thought they smelled something--dead pigs. 

I guess tomorrow I should set the record straight. Or maybe not...

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Potatoes and Potato Heads

Have I mentioned our school garden lately?

Mrs. Jones is getting our first graders out there. Yesterday they planted potatoes.

We have a great set up...

1. Mrs. Jones gets dirt under her fingernails, teaches the kids the correct way to plant potatoes, and how to measure the space between mounds and depth of each.

2. I rotate the kids to her, while watching the rest play on the playground.

Who's job is easier? I'm going with mine. :)

To go along with planting potatoes, and reading Jamie O'Rourke, we made "Potato Heads" yesterday. So next up today was "write about it." That's a nice thing about art and writing, they tie so nicely together.

And with the writing instruction for the past two months, these kids can write a "paragraph," (don't tell that to the kids). A beginning sentence, three supporting sentences and a closing statement. Sometimes with transition words. Sometimes with appropriate capital letters and punctuation.

Beautiful, right?

As I was helping the kids put the art and writing together I swelled right up.

Happy, working buzz was all OVER the room. Kids working, sharing, laughing. Teacher grinning, loving, beaming.

I may have even said--"you kids are awesome! Look at this art, look at this writing!"

And a sweet friend said in return, "We are the best class in the school and we are awesome!"

YES, they have been listening. :)

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Feeling It (The Love)

So many wonderful examples of love today. 

1. Hugs and smiles after a week off. 
2. Groups of children in chore boots excited to take care of our animals this morning. 
3. My Donor's Choose Project going live in the middle of the night and getting my first donation from my sister-in-law. 
4. A friend brainstorming with me how to get more alternative seating into my classroom. 

Not to mention great lessons. 

1. Jamie O'Rourke made a quick appearance. He helped us practice making and confirming predictions. 
2. I whipped out a pirate patch so that we could read words with 'ar'. 
3. They got a chance to examine some words and sort them. I didn't tell them how, but eventually it was short and long vowels. 
4. And they rocked reading picture graphs. 

I'm really excited about the rest of the week. So many opportunities to share love and knowledge.

Let's. Do. This!!!

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

I'm On Fire!

That is what I told my family as we were getting home from church today. I'm On FIRE!

I could not concentrate at church, because my mind was spinning. Last night I couldn't sleep, because my head was concocting plans.


Thank you Ron Clark and your book The End of Molasses Classes!!!

My husband says that we are not moving to Atlanta, Georgia. So my dream of teaching at RCA is not gonna happen (and I'm pretty sure that I am not distinguished enough to be hired by Mr. Clark).

But that won't stop me from beginning my transformation into an RCA worthy teacher, So I come to my teacher-blogger-friends and ask a simple question...

How do you respond to parents who ask you "How can I help my child at home with reading/math/writing/behaviors?"

Wouldn't it be awesome to have a list of amazing suggestions to offer? A list of tried and true ideas on the tip of my tongue? 

You are such an amazing group of teachers, and if you are willing to share your tip/suggestion/idea, I would be so grateful!!!

I am giddy in anticipation. The fire is growing. Watch out...

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