Welcome! Join me as I share my experiences as a wife, mom, and kindergarten teacher, and my reflections on them all. Come along as I share my crazy journey!

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Chose To Make a Difference and Be Happy! Did you?

Yesterday I urged everyone to choose to be happy and go make a difference to someone.  I started my day out today reminding myself that today I was holding myself accountable to meet my goal.  I didn't know how I was going to do this but I trusted that an opportunity would arise during my day.  I also promised myself that this would involve someone outside my immediate family...more specifically, someone at school.  I think I had in the back of my mind that this would involve one of my students but I wasn't going to limit myself.  On the other hand, I only worked a half day, so I knew I had a more limited timeframe for meeting my goal.

No worries, right?

Well, even though it was only a half day, it was one of THOSE days in the classroom.  It was pretty clear from the beginning that the majority of my students were thinking about the long weekend and feeling like they would much rather be outside playing, or inside playing for that matter, than be in school. 

This is a challenging group of students.  I love them, but they are a tough group.  I knew I would have to work harder to engage them today.  It was time to pull out the paint and the bingo chips!  What better way to jump into the day than by painting?  I figured that the kids would be more able to sit and read after painting.  Once clean up was complete, out came the book boxes.  I was surprised by their stamina - 25 minutes - I guess it worked!  Then I brought out the bingo chips, but I threw them a curve ball when I told them we weren't going to be playing bingo with them.  I was able to sneak in a little subtraction practice by playing with the bingo chips.  Then they were even able to accomplish a little writing time as well.

Through it all, most of the kids did a great job.  There were a few that were obviously just going through the motions today, but they were hanging in there and I managed to engage them, too, eventually.  But then there was my little pumpkin Jake.  Oh Jake.

All morning he was dragging his feet.  The painting didn't hook him.  Read to Self time caused him to make three trips to the Kleenex box, two trips to the bathroom, and one trip to the drinking fountain.  Yep, all that in 25 minutes.  Think he was able to get much reading done?  Me neither.  At this point, it was only 10:00.  I knew that we were still facing writing workshop...his least favorite activity of the day.  In 140+ days of school, I still have not been able to convince this little munchkin that writing is fun, important, exciting, anything.  He dreads it every day.  I figured if I didn't do something quick, the Kleenex/bathroom/drinking fountain process was going to start all over again.

What to do...what to do...how was I going to get him to add periods to his story when he didn't even want to open his writing booklet?  Think...think...think... 

"Hey Jake?  Would you bring me the book, Papa Please Get the Moon For Me, by Eric Carle please?

"Sure Mrs.S!" 

His face ACTUALLY lit up at this request.  I know it was really only because he would rather do anything than write, but I still took some satisfaction in seeing his smile.  He happily bounced over to the author study basket and found the book for me.  We read the book yesterday - he loved it, just as he loves anything about the moon, stars, planets, space, etc.

He brought the book over to me and stood waiting to see if I was going to read it...of course, I took advantage of that.  I started reading the first page quietly to myself.  I started a little dialogue with myself.  "I wonder what Eric Carle does to show his readers where to stop reading and when a sentence is done?  Hmmm, let me look...."

"Mrs.S!  I know!  Eric Carle puts a dot at the end of the sentence!  That's how we know when to stop!  Remember?  It's like a stop sign!"  (I love it when a plan works!)

"Wow Jake!  I think you are right!  I bet you did that in your book too!"

A perplexed look flashed across his face.  "Just a minute," he said as he dashed back to his table.

I watched as he bent over his story.  He checked each page, added a period to each, closed the book and brought it over to me.  "Look!  I did!  I have a dot at the end of every set-nance!"

"You put a period at the end of each sentence Jake?  That's great!  You are just like Eric Carle!"

S-M-I-L-E-S!  Then he proceeded to tell me he was done but didn't want to start a new story today.  He thought he'd had enough.  (Just when I thought I had him...)

"Hey Jake, you have been enjoying Eric Carle's books a lot, haven't you?"

"Yeah!  I like the caterpillar one and the hermit crab one and the sloth one and the moon one." 

"I like those stories too.  You know what?  I noticed that Eric Carle seems to write about things he really likes.  He really likes animals and he likes to teach kids about them.  I bet that's why we like those stories so much!  Because we can tell that he worked hard on them and he was really interested in those topics and he shared them with us so we could enjoy them too!"

"Oh.  Is it almost free choice time?"  (Sigh.  Guess I'll need to work a little harder.)

"What do you like to play with most?" 


"Do you have a lot at home?"

"Yes!  I have all different kinds.  They are different colors and different shapes and they are really cool.  I even have a track that they drive on and a ramp to jump and my brother has a lot of cars too!"  (Set the hook!)

"You know, that reminds me of Eric Carle!  He write about things he likes.  You could do that too!  You could write a story about your cars!"

Gasp!  "I could!  I could do it right now! I'll show you when I'm done Mrs. S!" he said over his shoulder as he ran away. (Reel him in!)

Later on...

"Hey Mrs. S?  I liked writing today.  I started that story about my cars!  It was kinda fun!"  (Ahhh...caught him!)
It took a while.  It took a lot of tries.  It took a lot of patience.  It took some new ideas, but I did it!  I made a difference to Jake today.  And you know what?  It felt really good.  Really good.  It was totally worth the time and effort.  I can't wait to see how his story ends.  I love that Jake chose to be happy today.

What did you do today?  Who did you make a difference to?  How did you choose to be happy?


  1. I loved your story, the way it unfolded and all the dialogue. I can tell how much it meant to you to engage him fully today, taking that step to really connect...he really ran with it! Glad it had such a happy ending.

  2. Wonderful story Robin. It's all about choice so many times, isn't it? I bet Jake's story will be wonderful because, like Carle, that's what he likes! I admire those of you who teach the little ones. There are so many intricacies of that teaching that happen differently than when I teach middle school (although working toward engagement is similar). Thanks for telling us the whole thing!