Monday, November 26, 2007

I Guess I'm a Mean Teacher???

I have something horrible to admit. I feel smug when a child in my class begins to cry because they have disappointed me. There, I said it... and now let me explain:

I really don't raise my voice at my students. I try to respect them and just as I wouldn't want them yelling at me, I'm not going to yell at them. I feel pretty damn good about the respect thing in my classroom. The students all really work hard and because they're 5 and 6, the only motivation some of them need is knowing that their hard work pleases me. (What a rewarding thing right?) Its when they begin to NOT please me anymore that we have an issue.

So today, S. was acting completely out of character. Not sure what was going on really. Usually he's very quiet, but today he was Chatty McChatterton. One verbal warning, two verbal warnings, thrrreee verbal warnings...ahhh ahhh ahh! Still, his behavior didn't change and I realized I wasn't being taken seriously. So, I call him over to me, we talk privately about what was going on and I just kept saying, "I am not impressed with the choices you are making today, yada yada yada," and his face was getting redder and redder. I was truly feeling for him. He walked back over to his table and get this...HE STARTED UP AGAIN! He was talking, spitting on L's paper next to him (on purpose), and then he took his pencil and scribbled on J's paper. I was livid. "S. you have lost free choice center time," I bark. His response, a silent cheer. Hands raised over his head and cheering like this punishment was relief. ARRGH! So again, he is called over to me and this time I really let him have an ear full. I saw tears in his eyes and I didn't stop telling him how his actions disappointed me, no, I kept right on going. The tears then started down his face and I dismissed him. He got back to his table and was covering his face but he managed to say, "I'm so sorry Ms. H. I don't ever wanna disappoint you again."

Doh! A part of me felt bad, but then this other feeling crept over me. I was really quiet smug that this little guy felt so bad and it was because he had disappointed me.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Me, Milo, and the Market of Words

I have spent my entire weekend writing for my boards. The hardest part about writing hasn't been figuring out what to say, but rather how to say it. At one of the workshops I attended for National Boards the speaker said, "Every word you use is like valuable real estate." That didn't really mean anything to me until I sat down with my computer to begin writing. Having a page limit restriction has really made me question every word I use. I feel like Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth when he entered the market of words... "Get your fresh-picked ifs, ands, and buts. Hey-yea, hey-yea, hey-yea, nice ripe wheres and whens. Juicy tempting words for sale." This is hard.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Do You Remember What it Was Like?

My student teacher taught her first real lesson on Thursday and I just wanted to hug her afterwards. She was so nervous and scattered that it became painful to watch. Her lesson plan was great, the implementation, not that great...

Her lesson: A Balanced Thanksgiving Meal
She began with a discussion of the foods we traditionally eat for Thanksgiving and made a list on the board of the students' responses... so far so good... then she introduced the food pyramid and then asked the students to categorize the traditional Thanksgiving foods into the different food smart I thought... Then she gave each student a worksheet with a plate on it, with divisions of the different food groups on it, and she also gave them a baggie of pre-cut Thanksgiving foods and asked the students to place the foods in the correct section of the plate. While they were doing this, she called them over to the board to ask them individually what their favorite Thanksgiving food was and she and the students created a Our Favorite Thanksgiving Food Graph. The whole lesson took about 40 minutes. Fabulous!!! She included so many objectives, integrated different subjects, great PLAN!

Watching her put this plan into action reminded me of what it felt like to be a brand new teacher and I realized just how much I do that I just don't even think about doing any more... like student proximity, smooth transitioning, using student vocabulary, having a visual for every little thing, anticipating bumps in the road, having a plan of action for T. (the rolling pin) ...all these things that you can't learn by receiving your Elementary Education degree. The things you learn by doing. What was hard for me, was watching her go through the lesson and see how personally she was taking it. Teaching is such a hard thing because so much of yourself goes into the job. In the beginning it is so hard to distance yourself from your job and to realize you're not a bad teacher when things don't go as planned. I just feel for her... I don't know when I began to be able to think on my feet and trust my teacher intuition, but I do know it happens somewhere along the line. I just hope she continues on and doesn't let her student teaching experience discourage her. She's going to be a fantastic teacher.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

To Blog or Write for Boards...That is the Question

Alternate Title:
F*@K, It's November and I Haven't Written A Damn Thing for My National Board Entries

I am sorry for slacking in the blog department. However, believe me, I feel like that is the only area I've been slacking recently. I have been at school so late for the past 3 weeks. I guess I can't postpone working on things towards my pursuit of National Boards any longer. I am definitely lucky to be working on getting my boards with my 2 teammates. There is just no way I could do all this work alone, but in some respects, working with them is slowing me down. Don't get me wrong, they are fantastic, but we have gotten to the point where we can't do anything independently from one another. We teach in the same space, literally our classrooms are joined together, and day in and day out we bounce ideas off one another. We collaborate, team teach, and share students. Its an ideal situation, but we are 100% dependent on each other. We can't make a single decision alone...whether the decision is what color folders our math folders will be, or more recently, what accomplishments are we going to document for Entry 4 for our boards. I am not used to thinking on my own anymore and so I'm struggling with writing my entries...let alone finding the time to work alone. So, again, forgive me for not blogging as often. I will do a better job! If anyone else has gone through the National Board process, I would love some support and words of wisdom.

Monday, November 5, 2007


I honestly have the best class ever this year. I have been battling a pretty nasty cold, which has probably progressed to fantastic sinus infection, since Wednesday. My class has had to put up with my sniffling, sneezing, coughing, snotting, self all week. We've gotten through read alouds with my raspy, congested voice. We accomplished a spelling quiz and they still did fairly well, despite my incorrect pronunciation of over half of their words due to being so stuffy. I've been in a Sudafed haze for 4 days. Long story short, I haven't been myself... but my supportive class has been amazing. After all of this, I had a huge reason to smile today.

Here's the scene:
C. a lovely blond, blue eyed, little girl in my class stumbles in this morning. She is schlepping her backpack, her Friday Folder, lunch box, blue folder, reading bag, etc. Everything she came in to school with today probably equalled her own weight. She begins the morning routine of getting unpacked, making her lunch choice, and beginning her morning work when all of a sudden she jumps up and rushes over to me. In between blowing my nose and checking communication folders, she gets my attention. She is practically bursting with excitement.

C: "Ms. H! Ms. H! I took my mom to Target last night to get something just for you.!"
Me: "What's that?" (sniff, sniff, sneeze)
C: "Its something I know you'll use. Ask me questions. Try to guess. Its a thing."

(You should know that my class is obsessed with playing 20 Questions. There are times I think they would rather play 20 Questions than go out for recess.)

Me: "OK, umm... do you find it inside?" (sniff, sniff)
C: "Yes!"
Me: "Can we find it in our classroom?" (cough)
C: "Well, kinda. They're almost all gone."
Me: (sneeze) "Is it smaller than......"
C: "Its tissues Ms. H. Tissues! You know 'cause you have your cold. I got them just for you. And they've got lotion on them. Look Ms. H! Look!"
Me: :) :) :) :)

That was super nice...and now my nose isn't as raw thanks to C's lotion filled tissues.
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