Welcome!


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!


Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Thorn in My Side



Day after day I slave away for you.
It never ends, does it?

Everyday I gather things for you.
I create things for you.

Evening rolls around and I'm so tired,
But you don't care, do you?

You still arrive every day without regard.
My feelings don't matter a bit!

Do you know how tired I am of taking care of you?
Planning for you? Preparing for you?

No matter; you just keep coming back.
Whether I want you to or not.

Why can't someone else deal with you for a while.
Just go away for a day or twelve.

Dinner.
A thorn in my side.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Baby Season



"Do you have any baby toys we could get out for Abby?" my sister-in-law asked me.

" Um...." I looked at my eight year old. "Do we Maddie?"

She stared blankly back at me and shrugged her shoulders.

"How about a doll for her?" my sister-in-law suggested.

I vetoed that idea before the American Girl dolls or Barbies were handed over.

We managed to dig up some plastic animals from the bin that used to hold baby toys but now holds Legos.  We managed to find one lonely board book from the book shelf that used to hold nothing but board books.

This exchange had me thinking.

There was a time when there were only baby toys in our house.  There was a whole shelf full of bins that held baby toys.  There was a whole shelf full of nothing but brightly colored board books.  There was a time when the dolls were soft and squeezable and there weren't Barbies with thousands of tiny accessories.  There was a time when the bins didn't hold Legos and tiny Playmobil toys.

There was a time when I didn't have to think about finding a safe toy or place to play because everything was safe. 

My how times have changed. We are in a different season in our house these days.  We are in a season where we don't have to worry about small pieces and parts.  We don't have to worry about plug covers or breakable items on low shelves anymore.

I think, as a parent, I was aware of the seasons changing.  I celebrated and enjoyed each season and each change to a new season.  Today it hit me just how far we have moved away from the baby season.  It's a little bittersweet.

Friday, March 24, 2017

One Of Those Days

On a typical day, my older two kids come to my classroom when they get out of school, which is about an hour before I get out of school.  They hang out and do homework until their two little sisters and I are finished for the day.  Today was one of those days.

I will say, if I'm being honest, this is not my favorite time of day.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my kids very much, but I am still working during this time of day and my children sometimes, even at 11 and 13, forget this fact.  Then, when the younger two join the party after school, it can get a little crazy.  Today was one of those days.

I love the days when they all go their separate ways and have things they want to do in the classroom.  Those are peaceful, relaxed days when I can wrap up what I'm working on and pack what I will take home and probably not take out of my bag that evening.  Today was NOT one of those days.

Today, the bickering started almost immediately upon seeing each other.  I know they love each other and they enjoy being together sometimes.  They can laugh together and play games together and even help each other from time to time.  But they are normal siblings who bicker sometimes also.  Today was one of those days.

Until we got into the car.

Today was a rare 74 degree March day in Michigan.  It was sunny, breezy, and warm.  It was just beautiful!  Once we got into the car, we put the windows down a bit and that is when the magic happened.  All of the sudden, there were fingers fluttering in the air coming in the window.  There were happy giggles coming from three little girl mouths.  There was a happy teenage boy kicked back in the seat and loving the wind in his face.  Things went from bickerville to pleasantville.  It was lovely!  Today was one of those days.

It could have been a long, irritable ride home.  But it wasn't.  Instead, I listened to the girls laughing at the tickles from the wind, laughing at the hair blowing around their faces, and laughing at each other. Today was one of those day.

"Hey Mom! Guess what?"

"What?"

"The wind feels like whipped cream in my hand! Except it's not wet."

This caused another ripple of laughter and a few small hands up next to the window trying to feel the whipped cream air.  I guess you just never know what one of them will say next.  Today was one of those days.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring Vacation


I'm dreaming of a spring vacation
just like the ones I used to know
before kids cost money
and dogs who act funny
and bills
my enemy and foe

I'm dreaming of a hot sandy beach
a long trip away from home
where the sunscreen's flowing
and warm winds are blowing
the waves
into salty foam

I'm dreaming of a spring vacation
just like the ones I used to know
maybe someday I'll travel
to sunny weather
lounging 
and laying low


It's almost spring break! Can you tell? I'm looking forward to a week of relaxing and doing as I please (as much as I can with four kids).  I'm looking forward to going to the bathroom, eating meals, and wearing jeans whenever I want.  And while I will be doing that at home, I will look out my window and dream of a day when I'm on that beachy vacation.

Isn't it ironic...I'm dreaming of spring vacation and my mentor text is a Christmas song? That's something to ponder.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sleep...or wishful thinking

My husband has been out of town since yesterday and won't return until later this week.  This happens a couple of times each year for work conferences.  I have come to realize that I can handle these small stretches of single parenthood just fine. Don't get me wrong! It's not easy and I'm so very thankful that it isn't my norm, but I CAN handle it when I need to.

The routine changes on these days.  Normally, he takes the older two kids to school before he heads to work because they are on the earlier start time.  I follow behind him with the younger two kids, about 45 minutes later because we start on the later start time.  At the end of the day, I play taxi and run kids wherever they need to go, attend whatever meetings/concerts that are on the calendar, manage making or purchasing dinner, taking baths/showers, and checking homework.  True, the household chores might not get done like usual.  The house might be a little messier.  The kids might even miss a bath one night.  But, we all make it just fine.

I can organize myself so that I can manage the details just fine.

HOWEVER....

I can not sleep when he is gone.
I can not get comfortable.
I can not get warm and cozy.
I can not stop tossing and turning.
I can not stop opening my eyes every hour.
I can not sleep when he is gone.

None of the organizing, managing, or anything else can help that little problem.

So if you see me this week, please pretend you don't see those dark patches under my eyes.  They will go away again next week once I can sleep again.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What's Your Why?

Today was staff meeting day. 

I don't know how other schools do staff meetings, but ours are before school.  One hour before school to be exact.  This means that on staff meeting days I have to get up earlier than normal, drop off the older two kids at school, and then get to my staff meeting on time.  Not my normal routine.  It's fine, it's just different than the normal routine of getting the two little kids to school.  To say that I don't enjoy waking up early on these staff meeting days is a bit of an understatement.  I'm more of a night owl than a rooster. 

This morning was no different.  I dragged myself out of bed and through the morning "stuff," finally arrived at school a few minutes later than I had planned (darn that early morning drop off at the middle school).  I slid into a seat just after my principal had started the meeting.  He was actually just introducing a funny Gerry Brooks video (and if you don't know who he is you need to stop and Google that name right now...go ahead...I will wait).

Anyway, the heart of my principal's meeting today seemed to be celebrating our passion.  He started out by sharing some nice notes from staff that were on the staff shout out board in the teachers lounge. He followed that up with an email from a parent that thanked the teacher, administration, and the whole staff in general for taking care of her child. He was deliberately building us up. He was reminding us to look past the things that aren't so great about teaching (the paperwork, the angry notes, the behavior struggles, etc.) and to look at all the good things we are happening around us every day. He shared a conversation he had with two friends who said they wished they had jobs that mattered and made a difference. He reminded us to remember why we chose to teach; to think about why our jobs DO matter.  He reminded us that we can all go home at the end of the day and reflect on something that we did to make a difference to a child.  After all, that's why we do what we do.

Every one of us in that room chose to teach, not because of the money, the fame, the vacation time, the paperwork, but because our passion is helping children learn.  It might be because of some stellar teachers we had in school who inspired us to be like them.  It might even be because of the not so stellar teachers we had in school who we wanted to do better than.  We all have a different "why" but all those reasons led us to the same place...teaching children.  We all share that passion.

It was a wonderful reminder this morning.  It's a reminder that many of us, if not all of us, needed to hear at this point in the year as we count down the days until spring break and a much needed rest.

So, I challenge you today to think about your "why."  Why did you choose to teach? 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Story Element Surprise


A couple weeks ago we had a professional development day at school.  My reading specialist did a training on some things we could do to help our students make predictions, think through the elements of a story, and to make connections between self and text.

One of the things she showed us was to take bits of lines from books.  Without looking at the book, students will think about the line from the book and decide what story element they think it might be (characters, setting, problem, and solution).  This is a way to think about what the story elements sound like and also to make predictions about the story.

Many of the teachers really liked this activity and thought that it could be used in the classroom with their students. I wondered if my kindergarten kiddos could handle this activity. I wasn't sure if they knew enough about those story elements to sort the lines from the book and I wondered if they would be able to complete the activity orally, being that they couldn't really read the lines from the book.

Well, they blew me out of the water!  I took bits of lines from the book Leprechaun on the Loose for St. Patrick's Day.  I gave them the following lines, each one on it's own sticky note:

Mrs. Yoder
the classroom
leprechaun trap
green footprints
Sidney
a leprechaun was loose in the classroom
fish tank
leprechaun
the leprechaun whispered in his ear
juice went everywhere
It was just what he needed to save the party
Sidney was caught inside

I read each line and then the kids decided where to put each sticky note on the story element chart that we used for the activity.  Here is a picture of the finished product.  If you look closely, you might notice there are check marks on many of the sticky notes.  That means we put that line from the book in the correct spot when we made our predictions. 

This was the third time we had done this activity (the third book we used) and you will notice we only had one in the wrong spot when we made our predictions!  I know! Blew me away!  The first time we tried the activity, we had 7/13 correct, the second time we had 8/10 correct, and this time only one wrong! The kids were so excited and proud of themselves. 

You know you have a great learning activity when the kids ask to do it every day!