Welcome to kindergarten! Join me as I share my experiences in the classroom, my professional learning and reflections and my love of teaching. Teaching is an exciting journey - come along as I share mine!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Day 31: We made it!

The SOLC has been a lovely ride this year. I have felt the ups and downs of writing every day for 31 days but I have also felt pretty settled into the challenge.  It's so great to see returning slicers and meet new people.  I have read so blog posts that had me laughing, some that made me cry and everything in between. 

As always, I have enjoyed myself and have nothing but gratitude for the Two Writing Teachers Team...you all were outstanding this month as usual!  Thank you for giving us this place to come and share pieces of ourselves.  Thank you for creating this community.

To my fellow slicers...we did it!  We made it!

So...until Tuesday...adios and see you soon!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Day 30: A Teenager?!

Today was a momentous day at my house.  My oldest baby had a birthday today.  It was the big one!  He turned 13 today!  I suddenly find myself the mom of a teenager.  I'm not sure what I think about that yet.  I'm still trying to figure out when he got so old?!

Matthew requested Wendy's for dinner and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for dessert.  Sure, I can handle that!  After dinner, he opened his presents and spent some time bonding with his new video game.  He was a happy dude!

Meet Matthew, my baby boy, my TEENAGE son:

Happy birthday buddy!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Day 29: The Reminder

Today I realized why I teach.  I was reminded about the impact that I have the opportunity to make on a child.  I remembered that I have the ability to make a child's day great or terrible.

If you read my post yesterday, you might remember the student I was talking about.  Today I got a message from her mom saying that the child had had a really rough morning at home with a lot of tears involved.  Mom was concerned about how her day at school was going and hoping that it was better than the morning had been.

I reassured her that she was doing just fine but that I thought all of the many, many, MANY testing sessions were really taking a toll.  I feel like that is why she was struggling in the classroom, at least.  The poor girl would hardly be in the classroom for 10 minutes and someone else would come and ask if they could pull her for another session of testing.  She was exhausted today and it showed.

Finally, at lunch time, the speech teacher come and asked if she could pull her again after lunch.  I told her no.  I never tell anyone no because I always try to be as flexible as I possibly can.  But today I told her no.  I told her how exhausted the student is and how much this testing is taking out of her.  I told her how little time she gets to spend in the classroom doing anything remotely fun.  I also told her that if she did take her today she would get very little accomplished because she just doesn't have it in her today.  Luckily, the speech teacher said she'd give her a break and get her tomorrow.

Small victory.

I let the child's mom know today that I was doing everything I could to make her afternoon as fun and relaxed as possible.  She'd get to go to gym, do a literacy activity on the iPad, have recess and snack and spend some time with her peers in the classroom like normal!

Her mom's reply was so appreciative that she had me in tears.  She had no idea just how much the testing was impacting her child but once I told her then everything at home suddenly made more sense (to both of us!).  She was so kind about telling me how much she appreciates everything I have done and continue to do for her child that I had tears running down my face as I read her message.

That is why I do what I do.  That is why I fight for this girl every day.  Because I am the one who is lucky in this deal.  I have learned so much from this child.  I honestly don't know what I will do without her in my class next year.  This child is under my skin (in the best way) and she will remain there forever.  She will always be the one I look back on and miss, wonder about, and hope for.

I needed to hear that today.  I needed the reminder.

I appreciate this child and what she has taught me.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Day 28: Brave

Brave by Sara Bareilles
You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

(Lyrics from www.lyrics.com)

Why the song? Well, I have a student this year who is deaf.  She is six and lost all hearing and speech abilities at 3 years old.  She began learning signs about a year and a half ago.  Her signed vocabulary has probably quadrupled this year.  Her receptive language has blossomed even more than her expressive language.  Last year, in an early childhood delay classroom, she threw fits every. single. day.  Multiple times per day she would throw herself on the floor or flat out refuse to do something.  The staff of this classroom (not in my school) would bribe her with food (M & M's) to get her to do things (I know, say what?!).  The Speech and Language teacher at my school was adamant that this child did not belong in our school and that we could not provide the services that she needed.  There are no programs in the area (closer than 2 hours away) that meet her needs and those distant programs are live in programs - not something her parents are interested in at all.  After visiting her former classroom, I had some huge concerns but I also felt like we could help her.

Turns out, I was right! She is growing and blossoming in my classroom.  She has made huge gains in all areas.  Since September, she hasn't shown much defiance or noncompliance at all...in my classroom.  Since September, she has developed relationships with peers and adults...in my classroom.  Since September, she has been engaged and actively involved...in my classroom.  

She does not have the same successes with the speech and language teacher who still believes that she doesn't belong at our school.  This teacher has made it a point to prove that this child is behind in the kindergarten curriculum.  She believes that the child's interpreters give her too much credit, I give her too much credit, we give her too much information to answer questions, etc.  Worst of all though, she believes that it's her mission to prove that this child is behind because she doesn't think anyone sees that but her.  She is intimidated by the interpreters who work with the child.

I know this child is behind in the curriculum.  HOWEVER, what I also think is important, that she doesn't seem to understand, is that this child has had more than one year's worth of growth already this school year and it is only March.  This child began the school year with the vocabulary of a three year old (that might be a tad generous) and now has the vocabulary of at least a five year old.  This child has had a vocabulary explosion!  She is understanding and signing more words than I ever expected, she is reading, she is writing, she is telling stories, she is adding and subtracting, she has learned numbers to twenty, she has learned all the letters and all of the kindergarten sight words.  Yes, her reading is a little behind and her writing is a little behind.  Yes, she struggles with comprehension because she doesn't understand how to answer open ended questions.  Yes, she struggles with writing some of the words of her signed story because she doesn't know how to spell them by memory yet (and she can't sound out words like her peers).  BUT, she is learning two languages at the same time.  She is reading and writing in English and is learning American Sign Language (ASL) at the same time and is using ASL to communicate.

Yes, this child is behind her peers.  Why do we need to focus on that?  Yes, we need to acknowledge that fact.  No one is denying it.  That truth isn't going anywhere, but there is this whole other side of this child.  A side that has done some amazing things this year.  A side that we never expected (but hoped) to see this year.  This child has blown my goals for her out of the water over and over and over this year.  This is where my focus lies.  This child has done some incredible learning this year and she deserves to be celebrated for that, not shot down for what she isn't doing. 

I have had plenty of opportunity this year for stretching my braveness where this child is concerned.  I have asked questions and had to seek out my own answers when no one else had them.  I have had to push my colleagues to seek out appropriate ways to do things for this child.  I have had to push for services to be given at times because they were slacking.  I have had to...had to...had do.  It's not in my comfort zone to push and demand from others. I don't like to be in conflicts with others.  BUT, I will stand up for this child.  I will speak up for this child.  I will NOT let her be smothered by an adult who can't get past her own insecurities.  

Brave has become my theme song.  It is the song that runs through my head and spurs me on when things get hard.  I'm showing just how big my brave is.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Day 27: Easter

Easter played double duty today! We had a family gathering for two birthdays and Easter.  It was a busy day but a great one.

The day began with four excited kids in our bedroom persuading us to wake up.  You would have thought it was Christmas morning!  We raced downstairs to find four Easter baskets filled with candy, socks, a new pair of shorts and the Easter must haves...peeps and a chocolate bunny!

Then, it was on to the egg hunt.  We had a lot of fun hunting for eggs. With a new house, there were all sorts of new places for eggs to be hiding.  We do try to tame some of the chaos of the hunt with a couple rules.  Each kiddo has their own egg to find...Spiderman, yellow Spongebob, Hello Kitty, and blue Spongebob.  There are 3 special eggs to find and then the rest are a free for all...until you find 12.  After you load your basket with a dozen, you can move on to opening them.

Finally, we moved out to the garage where the real deal gifts were hidden. For Matthew, the oldest, it was a basketball hoop!  Emma, the oldest girl, became the owner of a shiny new bike!  Maddie and Avery, the two youngest, found brand new (big girl) scooters!

Basketball hoop assembly
    Easter sidewalk chalk

As I moved back to the kitchen to begin cooking our Easter lunch, the kids played with their new treasures outside.  We hosted about 20 people for Easter lunch and birthday treats. After lunch and gifts, we went back outside for more playing.  I have sun-kissed pink cheeks to prove it!  It was a rare 68 degree day in March here in Michigan and we took advantage of it!  We even have some of the windows open to enjoy the fresh air for just a little longer.

Today was definitely a day of family fun!  Happy Easter from my family to yours.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Day 26: What's Blooming?

We moved into our house in late September. Late September in Michigan is just about the time when the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to change their hue.  Behind our house is wooded and many of the trees were changing to yellow, orange and red when we moved in. It was beautiful!

When we looked at our house before purchasing, it was early August.  We walked the yard and saw the landscaping. I noticed a beautiful hydrangea, several small bushes were planted around the deck, and there were several places where deep green ground cover was growing with little purple flowers that were peeking out among the leaves. I appreciated the effort the former owners had put into the landscaping.  It looked nice, fresh, and well cared for.

Now, as spring is arriving, I am wondering what new little treasures we will find. I have already been delighted with the pretty yellow daffodils that are beginning to bloom along the front porch.  (I'm also realizing that we have a bit of raking/leaf blowing to do to get those ugly brown leaves out of there!)

There are two more things that are beginning to come up and some even starting to blossom.

I think this one is a crocus, but I'm not sure.

I don't know yet what this one will be:

We will just have to wait and see!  It's fun to watch new life unfold around our house.  There are some unexpected things popping up here and there, and I'm waiting not so patiently for the hydrangea to bloom!

Once we see what we have, then we can make a plan to add what we want to make it our own.  I'm thinking maybe some tulips are in order somewhere!  I guess we will just have to wait and see what the rest of the spring brings to us.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Day 25: Finding a Good Mood

How do you put yourself in a good mood?  Do you have any tips or tricks that get you every time?

Brave by Sara Bareillis

For me, a sure fire way to find my way to a good mood is to crank up the tunes and to sing along.  It doesn't necessarily have to be a certain kind of music.  My only requirements are that I know the words so I can sing along and, well, I have to like it!

Fight Song by Rachael Platten

This is what I did today when the girls were whining.  I turned on the computer, fired up Spotify, and sang my heart out. 

Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys

You might be thinking, is that it?  That's the big secret?  No, but it went well with completing a blog post, finishing up my report cards a few days early (Yay me!), sending the girls outside to play in the sunshine, starting a refreshing scent going in the diffuser, and sipping on a nice drink.  Oh, and the chocolate frosted brownie with chocolate chips inside might have helped a little too.  :)

Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran

If you are a Spotify user, or want to download it, here is the link to my Sing Along playlist.  This was my jam today...maybe you will like it too!  1 hour 25 minutes of listening pleasure.

Piano Man by Billy Joel

What are your tricks for finding a good mood?