Thursday, September 27, 2012

Light at the End of the Tunnel

When I posted on Monday, I thought I would be back in the classroom by Wednesday, tops. Well, it is now Thursday night and I will not be seeing the inside of a classroom until Monday at best. While many of you would be jumping for a week off (and don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed the down time), I have spent the week checking my email every five minutes, doing course work that isn't due for weeks, explaining to my professor why I won't be able to post about trying something new this week, and racking my brain thinking about what I should have done different in my last placement and questioning whether I did the right thing in leaving early.

Well, after worrying and worrying, I finally came to my senses and went to the Lord with it. I did a little quiet time and scripture reading and, hey, what do you know, look what just happens to be one of the verses I read:

"I wait for The Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for The Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning" - Psalm 130:5-6

A verse about waiting. And of course, once I finally gave all the control over to God and stopped worrying, I woke up to an email saying that a school in Ponte Vedra will take me for the semester, maybe the year =]  They want to put me in 4th grade Gifted, which I'm very excited about! One reason my supervisor thought my last placement wasn't a good fit was because she thought I'd do better in upper elementary, so boom, let's do it. May have to rename the blog..... I'll keep ya updated ;]

Monday, September 24, 2012

Changes/An Ode to Morning Meeting

I've been slacking! I'm sorry it's been almost two weeks since my last post, but things have been crazy lately! To start with, I have some news: Thursday was my last day with my mentor teacher at my previous school. From the beginning of the semester, it was clear that we had very different styles, but I met with my UF supervisor and had her come to the classroom and observe. We talked about it and it was decided that (with such different styles), I would benefit from being in a different classroom, possibly in a higher grade. This was a difficult decision to make, especially since I'm only 5 weeks into the school year. Right now, I'm still waiting to hear where I'll be next. I'm hoping St. Johns county will have another placement for me, but you never know. As soon as I know where I'll be, I'll share it here!

Onto more fun things! Before I left, I got to try doing a morning meeting with my students two days in a row. For those unfamiliar with morning meeting, it's basically composed of 4 things: a greeting, share time, a game, and news/announcements. They're done every morning (hence the name morning meeting) and usually last 20-30 minutes. It's such a great way to build classroom community and teach vital social skills!

In our classroom meeting, we started with a simple greeting. Everyone stood in a circle and the first person walked up to someone else and said "Good morning, [name]", then the person responded "Good morning, [name]", then they high fived and switched places and the first person sat down. The second person then approached someone else and repeated the process. They kept going until everyone was sitting and everyone had been greeted. We focused on eye contact, appropriate distance from someone, and speaking at the right volume. Some things have to be taught!

We did a quick-share next, with each student getting 10 seconds to share something. On Monday, they shared what they did over the weekend and on Tuesday, they said what their favorite place to go was and why. I counted down 10 seconds on my fingers and when I got to 0, that person was done! Even my quiet kids had something to say and the kids had a chance to share with me, which is hard to find time for during a busy day.

Then, I went through the daily schedule and what we were doing in each subject, as well as which special they were going to (art, music, etc.) and any other updates they needed to know.

Finally, we did a fun activity: a listening activity with a coloring worksheet. I only said the instructions 3 times and they were things like "Color three leaves green and two brown". The activity can be education or just plain fun. Ours was a mix. This wrapped up the morning meeting and we got on with our day!

Overall, I noticed my kids had such great attitudes. They loved getting to share with me and each other, and they loved greeting each other. I heard less questions throughout the day about the schedule and they kept asking if they could do this every morning. I would definitely try to fit a morning meeting into your schedule if possible!! What do you think? Do you do a morning meeting?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Patriot's Day

As all of you know, today is September 11th. For all of us "adults" (I use the term loosely) that date will never have the same meaning as it did before 2001, but for the 7 and 8 year olds in my class, it's just another day. They were still years from being born on that tragic day and they don't have "I remember where I was..." stories to tell. The issue for today was: How do we address the importance of the day without scaring the children or oversharing beyond what parents find appropriate. What was even more difficult was the fact that none of the other second grade teachers were doing anything special for the day and my mentor teacher was out of town to greet her son-in-law returning from Afghanistan! So after some searching, I found a nice idea that was simple, but to the point. We made cards for police officers and firefighters thanking them for their service!

The kids came in with this prompt on the board:
     Good Morning! Today is September 11th, Patriot's Day. Please make a card for a police officer or a firefighter thanking them for keeping us safe.

They could choose a piece of red, white, or blue construction paper and use their crayons. I also had a list of words on the board for spelling reasons and to give kids an idea of what to write:

  • Thank you
  • Brave
  • Protecting
  • People
  • Courage
  • Hero
Some of the cards were really sweet! Here's one to a police officer:
"America need's you officer's"
Notice she drew ALL 50 STARS on that American flag. Dedication right there.

"thank you for all the things you do to protect us"
You can tell she worked hard on getting it just right! Here's one for a firefighter:
"Thank you" with a crown? and some stars

"Dear firerfiter's. You are the best. Do you now about the fire by the animel shelter?" And then a place for an answer, of course. I had to warn her that she may not get an answer...
So now I have the issue of how to give these heartwarming cards to police officers and firefighters... I may give the police ones to my dad (a police officer in Jacksonville) to give to rookies, and then swing by a fire station to drop off the firefighter ones. Any better ideas??

So that's how we remembered the victims of 9/11: celebrating the heros of our nation. I wish I had more time to plan a lesson, because I'm thinking of so much more stuff I could have done. But that's a start! How did your school remember today?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In Defense of Inclusive Classrooms

I know I just posted yesterday and you're all freaked out by my over-productiveness (a real word?) but I just had to share this sweet story that happened today. It definitely showed 1) how great children can be and 2) how important it is to have a mixed group of kids.

We were doing a math lesson and the students were supposed to work with the person next to them with some cubes to solve a couple of problems. We didn't plan out who was working with whom and just wanted to see how they worked together. Most of the partners worked well together, but one pair really impressed us. The boy and girl paired up were at different ability levels- the boy had repeated first grade and struggles with many assignments. The girl is on grade level and understood this particular lesson very well.

I was walking around and saw that on his turn to solve, he didn't get the right answer. Instead of taking the cubes and just "doing it myself" as I expected a second grader to do, she encouraged the student by saying "That's really close, but not quite right. Go ahead and try again. I know you're smart enough to get it!" A couple minutes later, he had tried again and found the right answer. He was grinning ear to ear and she was saying "There you go! I knew you could do it!"

Such an inspiration. Let this be a reminder that it is so important to have a mixed group of abilities because without that, you don't have moments like this one! This was a win-win situation because both students felt encouraged and confident and both improved their understanding. Inclusive classrooms for the win!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Immune System Failure

Ok so who predicted that after a mere 9 days of exposure to the kiddies I would come down with a head cold? We should really have made bets on this because it is so inevitable. I love those kids but they're like walking bacteria and I can feel my immune system screaming at me to just run away and never look back. But alas, I did not listen. I wasn't always so quick to fail, though, and I didn't miss a single day of my pre-internship last semester. Not a single day. Here's how and what I need to remember to do now:

1) Eat right and take a daily vitamin
You know the whole "apple a day" thing? It's real. Maybe that's why you're supposed to give teacher's apples? IT'S ALL COMING TOGETHER. That and a daily multi-vitamin. I started taking these this year and I swear it boosts my immune system. Do it. They're cheap and can only help.
So excited for those apples!
2) Hand sanitize so much your hands crack and bleed
Kidding about making your hands crack and bleed, but I am not kidding about hand sanitizer. I never kid about hand sanitizer. I am so careful about using it after I touch anything and definitely before I eat or touch my face at all. We have a giant hand sanitizer pump and I use it pretty much anytime I walk by it. Kill those germs.
Don't do this though. Seriously. Don't.
According to my mother, lack of sleep is responsible for all the evil in the world. Like, if only the terrorists got more sleep, they'd be more level headed, and if all the politicians slept better, we would have a nice, clean campaign. So obviously, whenever I'm feeling run down, sleep is to blame. The most annoying part of this is how right she is. If I don't get a solid 8 hours each night, my immune system gets all sassy and defiant and is all "Whatever, I told you to run. You're on your own. Peace."
That middle picture? See it? It's important.
That's what happened this weekend. Long weekend = hanging out without a bedtime = feeling like death on labor day. At least I had some yoga pants, hot tea, and the entire first season of Gossip Girl. Stay well everybody! And get some sleep!