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Friday, May 19, 2017

The Last Day

It was a great year. A magnificent year.

I'm tired and the kids are tired, because we have learned and grown so much. We have put a lot of energy into learning.

And now it is summer vacation.

It started about 1:00 today. I was feeling angry and had to somehow stuff it down and make it to the end of the day. To dismissal.

After school I was irritated, but didn't really know why. And angry. Still trying to be a grown up and manage my upset. 

At dinner (eating pizza with my family) it dawned on me. My sadness of the year ending was showing in the form of irritation, anger and general upset.

168 days together means something. To me and to the littles. The routine and rituals we created together are gone. What is next? Who are we if we are not together?

When I think about how this end affects me (and supposedly I am a grown up and can handle these strong feelings) I can start to understand why my class was a complete MESS today.

Now, will I be able to remember this next year and create a classroom where there is ROOM for all of the feelings of the year ending?
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

No Big Deal

But it IS a big deal. To me, to the parents, to the people who monitor "data."

Background information:

First semester of kindergarten was full of letters-names, sounds, words.

Second semester was full of review, review, review. And practice, practice, practice. (Review and practice of reading and spelling.)

Today:

Two kinder friends asked to play CandyLand with me during reading intervention. (Do not worry, I altered the cards. ;-) I wrote nonsense words on them--cvc, ccvc, ccvcc, cvcc)

These two kids were reading and playing with ease. Almost made me cry. When they would read a word, they would say, hey--that is the beginning of ... Just add ___ and then it is a real word.

Here is the example that has stuck with me:

Student 1 reads muff and says, that is the beginning of muffin.

Student 2 says, just add 'in' and you would have muffin.

Teacher (me) says, how did you know to add 'in'?

Student 2 says "I listened to the sounds." (He was a bit perplexed that I asked him--why would I not know this??? This was NOT a big deal to the student, just another day in kindergarten.)

The Big Deal:

These kids are leaving me tomorrow and they are confident that they can listen for the sounds to read and spell. These kids do not need me to spell anything for them. If they get stuck, all I have to do is "unblend" the word WITH them, and then they do the rest. 

Did I mention that they are 5 an 6 years old?

I am one happy teacher! 



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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Currently

Farley has retired the Currently linky, but I feel like writing a Currently tonight.

Listening to the Royals baseball game.

Thinking about my ELA block for next year (what went well--systematic, direct instruction in letters/names/sounds/and how to read; what needs to be improved--more kid talk time/Kagan/centers)

Loving my school buddies near and far. Also loving the progress of my wonderful Kinder Kids.

Wishing for a light table and a sensory table for my classroom.

Thankful for a job that I love.

What would be in your Currently?
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Monday, April 24, 2017

The Good Kind of Surprises

I had two good kind of surprises today that I want to remember.

1. Students were drawing/writing to go along with our story during our chapter book read aloud. (I find that it keeps their attention and allows the ones who want to be creative the space for it.) A cutie held this up for me to see.


I was surprised at how easily I could read it, so I asked--who helped you write that? The answer, "no one, I said the sounds." And a look of "duh!" But not disrespectful at all.

What I see every day is a group of 5 and 6 year olds who are not afraid to write a sentence (or a story). They compose the sentence, think about the sounds and go for it. And, by golly, I can read it!!! If they get stumped, some will ask me, and I say: say the word, say the sounds. And at about that time, they turn around and go write it. 

I love that writing is in their backpack, not mine. It is not up to me to tell them how to spell anything!

2. I am finishing up Aimsweb testing this week. Today I worked with one who I thought would struggle. Nope. Crushed it! We may need to party tomorrow...

So I want to remember today when the next difficult day comes around and surely it will come.
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Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Big Picture

Stuff comes to me just when I need it. Information comes at the most opportune times.

OR

I am open to the stuff and information that comes my way.

Either way, I'll take it!!

School has been difficult the past three weeks. I have been challenged professionally in a way that has rocked me to my core. I have not slept. I worry. I cry.

In a moment of severe self-doubt my principal said to me (some version of this), "You are not used to not figuring it out, it is difficult for you to have to try many things, you will get this, you are already doing this."

She ''gets" me. I am used to things going my way. Things are good. I am successful. I feel good. If things are tough for an extended time I take it personally. Hard.

Last night, in a different training, totally unrelated (yet related) a wise man said, "Understanding helps us to not take it personally, it is larger than me."

That comment stopped me cold.

The stuff that has been difficult IS larger than me. I do not have to carry it in my backpack. 

My next hope is that I can be caring and compassionate, and work at the stuff, and see the big picture.

Wish me well!
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Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Struggle

How do I challenge the kids and create a culture that values growth and struggle and not just value the correct answer quickly?

This video is quick and full of ideas.


I am excited to use some new Feedback Stems this week to start valuing growth, not perfection.

--Look at how much progress you've made on... (be specific!)
--I noticed how... (be specific!)
--I admire how hard you have worked on... (be specific!)

Starting with these three, then I will add some more!

Also, we NEED to make a class matra...

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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Important Ideas

I love learning. And applying the learning to my life and my classroom. 

That being said, I wasn't too excited to see an assignment pop up for my online class to watch a 47 minute long video. I didn't even get my notebook out for notes. 

That changed at 4 minutes in! I was scrambling for my notebook and was quick to pause and write my thoughts and ideas from the video. And 2 hours later I have finished the video (and my wings and pizza--Super Bowl, you know!).

Mostly I am thinking about how to apply this knowledge in my classroom and with my own sons.

Some thoughts:

1. Teach the love of learning, the thrill of improvement (like that one science class in college where I got a D on my first big test and worked my way into an A for the final grade--that's improvement), and to love the challenges

2. Be aware the skills and talents are malleable--time and effort may be needed

3. Look at errors, analyze them, learn from them

4. "What is my greatest failure, and how has it changed me?"

5. The power of Yet (I heard this from Ginger years ago, and now it makes even more sense, thanks Ginger!)

6. Developing a Growth Mindset is a life-long journey, monitor triggers that put me in a fixed mindset, learn from challenges (this is particularly important as I take the big classes)

7. Instead of telling my students "how smart they are," focus on effort, improvement, perseverance, and strategies used

And the ending, which is the most scary for me: Environment is totally a HUGE factor in whether a student develops more of a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. I set the stage.

So, here is my challenge for me: accept the kids, value who they are, teach rigorously (yes, even in kindergarten), understand how trauma influences learning (yes, more to learn), and be willing to share my learning journey with them.

Remember to send my your thoughts and resources for teaching kinders about Growth Mindset! 

Thanks in advance!

Just in case you want to see the whole video...

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