Monday, December 20, 2010

note to self

They missed me. And I missed them - A LOT.
Friday was a personal day - had to attend a funeral but in retrospect I should have taken a day energy today was significantly higher than my co-workers and I couldn't wait to see the kids who were equally enthusiastic at my return.

"When it was Friday, we was singin at a concert and you wasn't here!" - Princess friend

"You Ok Miss Stowe?" - J

"Why You wasn't here? You Ok?" - R

"You wasn't here the other day right? Mrs. Baldino was here" - N

: ) "You gonna be here tomorrow?"

Love them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

broken for kids

I hurt. I am crying. Not for me. For them.

D's uncle was shot and killed "when it was dark out and mommy won't stop crying." Last night. He rolled in at 9:15am - the earliest he has arrived all year.

K's 11 year old brother tried to kill himself this morning. Single mom of 3 informed me K can't come to school because she has no way to bring her home. Her 9 year old has Down's and is aggressive and defiant, her 11 year old is now hospitalized, and her 4 year old is a sweetheart but academically very low and has little use of the left side of her body. Dad has a restraining order.... Mom is crying - literally for help. If I said I would take K for a few days mom would say yes - I know she would...but it's not legal and I can't But I hurt and I don't know what to do.

T said his foster family is taking him for CHristmas and he is going to a new school. : (

RB's day - not good - made him stand in a box on the floor for 10 minutes until he couldn't anymore. TP couldn't pull it together either - also made him stand in a box until he had to sit.

NT's mom finishes rehab on Friday and gets her back....yikes.

I was THRILLED to move all but ONE CHILD to goal or proficiency in Letter ID and Letter Sound today but CRUSHED by the fact that I can't make them "proficient" emotionally or mentally.

I feel defeated and weighed down today.

I can't be in on Friday and it kills me to leave them-I know they'll be fine, my para is wonderful but I feel like I am consistent they know what to expect....somehow by not being there I am changing the one thing they know.

I am broken for my kids and their broken lives and families.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Amtrak post - from 12/11

Hurridly whirring, humming, jolting gently down the ever trekking track.
Eyes drifting, darting to keep up with the ever changing scene. Mind flitting, matching the speed of the steel wheels which carry the car effortlessly forward. Every detail sparking a thought, the bareness of early December, the sun, low and glinting, the shore, the construction, warehouses standing in stark contrast with small old towns that are nestled along the line. Crisp blue, almost gray that fades to a dusty white on the horizon – though the sun feels warm, it looks cold and ice is beginning to creep along the edges of ponds as we pass.
The voice behind me – not more than 10 years old, questions life, evolution, animals, how he came to be, and why he is a teacher’s pet. I am distracted by his curiousity and by the subtle murmurs of the conversations around me. Lesson plans wait for me but to be able to sit – watch – not do – not speak – just sit is delightful.
Marshes – cat tails still and whispy in the cold air seem to dominate my field of view.
I think train is the best way to travel –easier than air, more relaxing that car, and more personal and independent than taxi or bus.

Driving downtown this morning my heart ached – my 21 kids have probably never been to Boston, they live 3 miles from the train station and I’m sure rarely if ever step aboard a gleaming car headed somewhere exciting. They could see a tree larger than they could ever imagine if they’d ride for just 2 hours to New York, or visit an fantastic aquarium and historic sights if they’d ride for 2.5 hours to Boston….they live in a hub of travel, with access to nearly ANYWHERE and yet they’ve not even been to the museum around the corner – or the library down the street.
I long for Friday and then I get there and I miss them – their eager greetings in the morning, “Miss Stowe you look beautiful today!” or “Miss Stowe look what I got!” Proud of pieces of junk mail they salvaged from the recycling bin or a piece of metal or plastic they discovered under a seat on the bus.

I had to tell a little girl yesterday that she was safe at school….why? Because there was a shooting at her bus stop – a shoot out explained the para nonchalantly over my classroom phone. It rolled off her experienced tongue as if the child had merely forgotten to eat breakfast (well she did) or had perhaps stubbed her toe getting on the bus…Did it have a different meaning? The mere utterance of the words caused my heart to race and panic – what did this mean for our day? 6 kids ride that particular bus – did they see it too? The social worker wasn’t in – what would we do?  Sure enough she walked in – trembling, bundled to the top of her head and velcroed into her coat – unwilling to take it off. Her itchy red eyes, burning with untreated pink eye blinked back tears, “Miss Stowe there were guns at my bus stop today and I’m scared.” Ok so it meant what I thought it meant. I was unprepared for this – I don’t think anywhere in 5 years of school they told me what to say to a 4 year old who saw a shoot out. I knelt in front of her – “M,” I said as softly as possible, “Are you ok? Is mommy ok?” “Yes…” I thought fast, “Ok, that’s good, I’m sorry you saw something scary this morning, but you know that you are safe here at school right? And we don’t need to worry about that while we are here, we’re going to have a good, safe, day here today. Ok?” She nodded and believed me – still scared but seemed to accept my offer of safety. She told my para she would be sleeping at grandma’s house so that she wouldn’t be killed. L I don’t even know what to think. The other bus riders seemed oblivious, only one said he heard popping noises on the bus – but he didn’t know what it was and I didn’t tell him.

R said dad left his car at the police station…hmmm – didn’t push that one.
T said he was going rock climbing with his caseworker – but when I raised my voice at him this week (it was a rough week) he shut down and stormed about the room saying “Oh my freaking God.” Kicking tables, tipping chairs, throwing markers. No where near the outbursts we once saw – but still seems scary. As long as my voice is soft and sweet he listens, even if I’m telling him I don’t like the choice he’s making …. He can’t handle someone being firm with him – it freaks him out. And it breaks my heart to do it, but he was being unsafe and distracting, I had warned him 3 times and finally I said firmly – not shouting, but firmly, “Go Move Your Color T” and he panicked. Later – after he had left my room for his social behavior meeting, he returned ready to listen – and my voice was gentle the rest of the day – he decides when we use a firm voice, that we must be mad at him and that we don’t ever let go – he has to be convinced that we still care. I don’t think I could love him any more than I already do – a picture of our hands together – taken right before Thanksgiving, is taped beneath my computer monitor – his fingers are between my own and only I know whose hand it is – a reminder, in case I start to correct him firmly, that he is a sweet and loving boy who is afraid to not be loved.
Janice decided this week that she was in charge – and that she needed to have EVERYTHING every other child in the class had. And I mean everything – someone got a tissue, she wanted one, someone got a sticker, she needed one, I used a sticker to label reading groups – it meant to her, that she was wonderful, someone didn’t like breakfast, she didn’t either, someone’s chair was bigger – she had to switch – I mentioned that someone was following directions and she had to point out that she was too. It was exhausting. I know she just craves my attention – but I can’t take that for very long!
NT decided to lash out and be disruptive, combative, and refuse to do anything – in fact I would ask her to do something and she would do the opposite. Maddening.

**beautiful shoreline homes interrupt my thoughts – if these families put out 1 less present or had 1 less car or 1 less boat (I just saw 3) or perhaps 1 less balcony – my kids could have a nice dinner or a special present** But it is beautiful here!

This week felt good – despite not great behaviors, I saw 3 reading groups almost every day, my kids Letter Id scores went WAY up, and we had our first real whole group Oral Language Lesson on Friday – it was great! My classroom looks nice, decorated, and lit for the holidays, clean, and there’s a definite system to the madness that happens between 8:20am and 4:30pm every day.  Had some good collaboration this week as well. Figured out ways to use creativity for academic advantage – Friday Fun Day Activities – using scissors and glue to encourage fine motor skills as well as patterning and counting. Also decorated ginger bread men – the foam kind to decorate the room. With a week and half before vacation, I feel pressure to make sure they make some significant gains before leaving…and to be sure that our routines are in tact so that they come back easily and ready to learn again in January.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Independent Math

Today I modeled making 8 with 5 of one color cube and 3 of another - using the words 8 is 3 more than 5....showed them 6, and 7 as well - we compared them. Great Math talk happening!
Then I "set them free" to do their first ever Math Work independently - gave explicit instructions about what it sounded like, looked like, and how to show me they are done - solving the numerous "I'm done Miss Stowe" comments with a simple silent model - which they found hilarious....I walked to the mailboxes, then walked to the library where I chose a book and sat down. They told me exactly what to do...they didn't follow through perfectly but they tried!
It was refreshing to see a little more independence : ).
Also introduced the color behavior chart today - out of necessity because Bobby was out of control. Interesting response - it might work, but it might lose its severity if I am not careful. I want "Move your Color" to be a crushing consequence so that it doesn't happen often. There wasn't that sense of urgency today I will retalk it out tomorrow!
Also did 3 rotations of bookshop groups today and the center changes were fairly smooth....I need to print pictures and redo my task board so kids can just move.
All in All - not bad for a Monday!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

what works

Here are things that I see as successes in my classroom:
- the children know how to come in the room, hang up their belongings, take out their red folder (many of them anyway), move their name to say "I am here" take a breakfast, and sit down.

- counting by 10s is smooth and fluent
- alphabet sounds are really coming along.
- reading groups are coming along
- students are finding sight words EVERYWHERE!
- students are able to sustain for about 10 mins during writers workshop

-students use the words: perseverance craftsmanship respect and unity - WOW
- students take care of their learning and their friends
- students are getting good at coming to circle time - and walking in line!

What's not working?
students tattle A LOT
I am not getting phonics centers in every day - I do a lot of it whole group  because centers take SO much time
I am not using the district curriculum because I am overwhelmed by the binder and lack the books I need for it
I am using my own writing - I don't like the district's .... ugh.
I didn't teach the science kit I had
I am terrified that they're not getting what they need but don't want to tell anyone.
Math only really happens whole group :-/ I know small would be best.
Behavior issues happen every day and don't seem to change.
I am at school late - daily.
I am exhausted - daily.
I have 2 students who know ZERO letters : (

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Shoes Hurt.

Today - my buddy T fell asleep as soon as he got to school.
Princess friend threw SIX tantrums - many of them "I Don't WANT to THROW A TANTRUM" "GIVE ME A STAR I WANT A STAR I DONT GOT A STAR" (seriously?)

Rodney fell asleep on the floor in front of the bathroom - he went over there having a tantrum and crashed... oops.
 Nailah also fell asleep.

My friend got a tiger sticker - yup the one who has a "pet" tiger - she also had beans and rice for Thanksgiving.
Rodney refused to wear shoes all day - they hurt.

Bobby's pants still had tags and he threw his body at several people today - seemingly unaware.

Dashahn? rolled in at 10:30am - after our puppet show and phonics. awesome.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Blogging in anticipation of a difficult day....sigh.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Her's Taking away my learning!!

T yelled at Princess Tantrum today as she rolled on the floor for the 6th time...." You is taking away my learning - 'top it!!" I had to laugh. This is the kid who would sit in the kitchen and reek havoc now yelling at my trantrumer to stop taking away his learning....his learning may be modified and look different than the other 20 kids but he recognized that he couldn't possibly learn with that noise. Thank goodness! I love to hear grown up words coming out of their mouths - "I don't like when you do that...." "I'm sorry" "Please stop bothering me on the carpet, I'm trying to learn" "My friends are bothering my learning" Make me smile - they are serious matters but they get it - they are little humans (sorry Grey's Anatomy) and they really are getting it. Today they happened to define the word "Problem solvers" and they totally understood. They also understand unity, craftsmanship, and perseverance - WOW.

They learned about a number line today....and they talked about being thankful. They read books today and they practice sight words: the, we, is, and, see - and they did their letter sounds - which we now know very well...but the consonants are hard "B" "P" "T" "C" 'D" we add a vowel to them and I can't correct it now. They helped me make a checklist - to "check their bodies" and they used it today, we really worked on looking at the talker - and having only 1 voice on the carpet. I felt mean at some points but they have a lot ahead and the smoother these little things are, the more we can accomplish!

I am exhausted and achey and just ready to sleep....but despite little ant hills in my way today, I loved my little humans - all 20 of them (C was sick).
Funniest moment? Taught them how to play pirate booty .... which I promptly renamed when they burst out hysterically at the word booty....the last round I was the pirate and they stole my bells...Bobby stole my bells and when I opened my eyes to guess I looked around, making eye contact with the kids - as soon as I looked at him, he burst into peels of laughter, trying so hard to contain himself but he wasn't able - it was adorable.

Sweetest moment? J - singing you are my sunshine and Katrina attempting to sing jingle bells : ) I video taped on my phone. I love them - I do....most of the time, when I don't feel like I'm going to gauge my ears out if I hear Princess scream or wine one more time. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another First....

Haven't taken the time to journal and it kills me because yesterday was a terrible day...wanted to journal was too tired to do it. The old T was back .... his brother and sister are gone and he was a wreck - chairs and tables a mess, on the floor, throwing things, and not responding to anything. Today he was cute and listening again. I am wiped - it's a roller coaster.

But TODAY was parent conferences and that is an exciting first. My amazing coworkers are fun - we ate dinner all together and our principal served us food (how incredible is that?!) and they were very supportive. One eventful conference dealing with a parent I had to report to DCF and she was ready to rip a new one but I got the principal who did the conference for me and kept it very academic - so grateful. One family laughed hysterically the whole time because she couldn't believe how spot on I got their daughter and the things I've picked up on - not to glorify what I do, but really? I mean we are together 8 hours of the day....good and bad we all know each other really well....kinda hard not to! Loved meeting some new parental figures and sharing what delights their children are because truthfully they are, a lot of the time.

After my principal came in and picked up blocks - yes cleaned my room - which were thrown about because of children who came with parents and congratulated me on my first parent-teacher conferences. I did 12 of 21 in 2 hours - averaging about 9 minutes each - some a little more, a couple a little less but I wish we had more time, I want to get to know families and share more with them, hear more from them. Because they were so short I had to do all the talking - they just want to know from me what they need to do, what their kid is good at and bad at. my voice hurts.

This week's highlights:

5 yellow counters 4 red counters
If these are cookies - which cookies would you rather have?
Ter: The red ones
Me: Why?
Ter: I like red cookies.

haha. Trying to get at more and fewer - cute answer.

Reviewing nonfiction text ....
M: I still have a tiger you know.

interesting. I need to go back and see if I already blogged about this incident - my uncreative, academically low, and unengaged student who has me believing 100% that she has a pet tiger......if I haven't written about it yet, I will.

Today I took off my flats and sprayed them with Lysol - T said " What you doin?" Me "Cleaning my shoes" T "They 'tinky?" Me "Yes" T "So you put those on?" Me "Yes, what are they called?" T "'lippers - I have froggy 'lippers" How cute! : ) Time to start the academic push with him now but he just is so precious. I need to be careful how much patience and exception I dish out for him ... when my expectations are so high with the other kids - sometimes when I come down on him he can do it, but sometimes it makes him mad.

67% of the entire kindergarten class is proficient in LID!! : ) based on January standards - that's so much growth! It's still so far to go but it's exciting, it feels like we're doing something right.

Data is fascinating to me - it gives me the growth I need to see in order to keep doing what I'm doing and keep me believing that I'm effective - or change when I'm not, but it forces useful collaboration as well and keeps our meetings on task and overall just a great stretching/growing experience.

Did I mention I am feeling like fried squid tonight and cannot think straight? Time to stop, this post will make no sense tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

New Haven Promises.....

New Haven Promise 

This is what threw off our routine - who knew they mattered THAT much. It took a good chunk of the morning and fail on New Haven's part - it didn't play over the slow bandwidth and naturally the whole district was trying to watch. So I announced to my kids and the 1st graders in the room we were using, that New haven was promising money if they are good students and go to college. Well that's *kinda* what New Haven promised - it's actually a really big deal and I am VERY pumped about it....but those are not the words they used.

Oh so highlights today?

T played peek-a-boo. T also got a foster placement in Hartford : (

"I gonna go to treasure box" - B after the day from HELL
Playing school during dismissal "SIT ON YOUR BUTT RIGHT NOW!!" Me: "We don't talk like that" (right?)
F- drinkable strawberry yogurt. Really. DRINK it - do NOT put it in your backpack open. Just don't. Trust me.

We read a non fiction story about tigers....and a girl informed that "some people gots dogs, but I don't gots a dog, I gots a tiger - it sleeps at the end of my bed....and we have a pool for it to swim." Now before you dismiss my concern with a laugh - consider the child, a simple, easily distracted and very below proficient student - not creative as far as I can tell, and lacking in initiative/common sense. Overall not showing any signs of creative genius. She did not "invent this story" as you might assume - I did talk to mom, I expressed concern - with a laugh- and mom awkwardly laughed back - "We don't got no tigers - just a dog named Sparky" all too textbook - I really am concerned! If you could the intense belief and excitement about her connection to the book, you too would wonder..... My para had at first dismissed it as a stuffed animal but soon became as concerned as

I send home food with a child who appears to be hungry all the time - today he said "I brought you food Miss Stowe!" What did he pull out of his bag midway through the day? A small microwaveable cup of instant Minute Brown Rice - COOKED and partially open. How sweet! I didn't ask any questions, I simply said, thank you! I love Rice! And I do....but I prefer to make it myself and not place it in backpacks .... which frequently are covered in wet clothes, left on buses, coated in drinkable yogurt, and thrown about in the room.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Best job in the world?

Remember that? Oh when was it....Just 3 days ago?
WELL then there was such a thing as the day after Halloween when children come in on very little sleep, toting candy bags secretly in their backpack and sneaking candy at all times. And our smiling, heart-melting friend T that I love so much? He came in double fisting middle fingers - "what up yo" he announced in the face of one of my quietest boys. I asked him to fix it and look like a kindergartner....which he did not do. And my usual "What are we working for today" gave me a "nuttin, I ain't workin for nuttin today." Lovely.
Happy Monday what can I expect from a day that starts like that?

Ringworm for 1 - and I happen to have the treatment for it at home - lucky me.

A 45 minute recess -  because they needed it.

no writing - math was about all we could tackle in the afternoon.

30 minutes of puzzle groups - literally got out 3 floor puzzles (new ones from my grandma!) and let them go at it until dismissal.

A bad report from art - no wonder.

T got sent home - with an accident and bad report.

a late night at school. 8pm to be exact.

disinfectant all over my tables

oh and an an evening of making cinnamon rolls to share with my staff - who though I love them, I have to see tomorrow while my kids are home sleeping so we can talk data....which is thrilling considering the academics we accomplished today.

Yes. It was indeed another Manic Monday. And they just don't stop.

Thank goodness for chocolate chip cookie pie left over from this weekend...and for kittens because mine is laying beside me purring reminding me that sometimes all you need to be happy is a cozy bed. : )

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

When words don't cut it....

There are videos replaying in my head today....

- Miguel didn't want to come to school and cried...while I was comforting him, T (my special friend) arrived , saw my back to the door, crept around me and tilted his handsome face around my shoulder so that I could see that he had arrived - full faced grin and a little laugh - then waltzed away to hang up his backpack and coat. I melted. I play it over and over in my head and it makes me smile not smile, beam. My friend who wanted nothing to do with anyone now loves school and loves me and my working on academics, and is barely taking breaks.

- 10 minutes later T - touches the side of his upper eye - 'What's this here Miss?" "On Me?" 'Yah, that stuff..." "Oh makeup - do you like it?" "No." Very abrupt but said with a bashful grin. Heart = stolen.

- Just after indoor recess I was setting the kids up to take a class picture - was 1/2 way through and they announced the start of Community Meeting so I lined them up - Katrina ran up and wrapped her arms around me "I'm sorry Miss Stowe." : ) There was no need but she felt I must have been disappointed.

- 5 friends at puzzles during recess - one is particularly selfish with pieces - Princess Friend (the tantrum prone child) begins to scream "SHARE SHARE I SAID SHARE" and then proceeds to try and grab the piece from the other student. My course of action? "SIT IN YOUR SEAT AND PUT YOUR HEAD DOWN YOU CANNOT SCREAM SHARE AT FRIENDS!" Turned to my para and said - "If I were four and someone were screaming SHARE at me, I know exactly what I would do." Was not the first time she had screamed that today.

- 2 friends Rodney & Carlos very excited "MissStowe!! We have gym today!!" "Yes we do, how do you know?""Because g - y -m " spells gym!" "WOW!! You Read!!" : )

Friday, October 22, 2010

Haircut Writing Victories Workshop in Action and " 'poons that are Naty "

So today I got a haircut - and the only comments I can't wait to hear are not from family and my other half (who loves it by the way) but from my 21 kids who no doubt will have some sheer honesty to share. I really can't wait - so much that I told my hair dresser I couldn't wait. : )

Today was a HUGE step towards success - day 4 or 5 (I've lost track and I need to be better about this - for myself so that next year when I'm losing my mind I can look back) of Writer's Workshop, which means "everyone's writing" (so they yell back when I ask) "and it's quiet!" I asked them to draw themselves "angry, really really angry" (like Sophie in the book we've been rereading for comprehension) and to then try - actually I said PERSEVERE and they know that word (!) to write some words on  the top line, you know what? ALL but 1 child wrote random letters with some spaces on the top line, they get it, letters make words - WOW what a milestone!!! Were there any real words? Well no, some wrote the alphabet, some wrote their names, my spanish speaker wrote book, shine, look, cat - oh well - but they are recognizing text = huge and I was so excited I video taped them working quietly with jazz in the background.

Reader's workshop? getting there - 10 mins is pushing their ability to be independent but they are truly trying and seem to enjoy it. Phonics....centers are hard - hard for me to manage behavior AND teach a small group effectively -need to spend some time thinking about that this weekend.

Math? We are counting by tens each morning - as we count the days in school and yesterday marked a milestone, 30 days!! (another red number) and now our 3rd tens number : ). And that's a whole month of kindergarten! My expectations are higher - I don't give much slack....oh by the way My princess friend? She threw a fit - wore someone else's coat outside because it looked like hers - the other girl discovered it and was upset, then both girls screamed bloody murder that the coat was theirs - when I saw it I was able to say whose it was and princess friend still believed it was hers and went BALISTIC and I mean DANGEROUS - blood curdling screams, body rolling on the ground - kicking, flailing and attacking me - ridiculous behavior. I marched her inside and called grandma, informed her that she could not stay in kindergarten if that continued. Yeah done with that.

'poons? Yes my friend T - the one I love so much? He doesn't say S in the beginning of words- not all words, but a lot. Yesterday he wanted cereal, but it was muffins for breakfast so the spork packets were well, sporkless - included only a straw and napkin. So I said he wouldn't be able to have a cereal without a spoon - and wouldn't you know, the Village sent him with a spoon and his proud little voice appears beside me - "I have a 'poon in my pack pack." He brings it out grinning, eats his cereal and I take it to wash it. When it is snack time, he goes to get it to eat his yogurt and there were some fruit flies - whole school has them....and he says that my poon and that naty (nasty) he was thoroughly disturbed by the presence of flies near his poon. I just love to hear him talk. Or sing....he sings SkinnaMarinky Dinky Dink and it's cute - barely decipherable but cute.

I am not coherent - it's late, it's Thursday but I miss writing down my day and I'm sad I've missed so much already - I want to remember the moments where I literally jump up and down and say "look! look!" Today was one of those days - 3 mins of quiet writing...I was ECSTATIC!! Did I still lose my patience? Yeah - a little - clapped my hands about 10 times in the face of a child who was putting her head down during small group instruction - kept clapping then the class joined in - oops. Made tantrum friend apologize to the whole class. Made one kid stand on the carpet because he couldn't sit still.....but then also danced the Hokey Pokey, danced to ABC 123 - and watched a little friend show me "his moves." Gave out treasures from the treasure box like crazy.....and got a bad report from the PE teacher.

My new favorite word is "Pack Pack" I hope they never stop saying it. And now I will stop randomly word vomiting and sleep - a thorough, thought out reflection is due this weekend.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Skinna Marink....

Wow!! I could just cheer spontaneously - but it would scare my kitten & I have no voice so I won't.

My buddy T who lives at Boys Village and has been a huge behavior/academic and social issue since day 1 - you know, the one we are hoping to outplace to a school for boys who throw chairs and scissors? Not only has medication changed his reaction to not wanting to do things, but he hasn't left for behavior issues in 3 weeks. I can't say he is making great academic progress - because he works in about 30 minute intervals for gum or computer time (even those intervals are becoming less frequent). But I can say I am head over heels and will cry when he gets outplaced. This little angry boy with a seriously depressing background (substance and physical abuse - 1 of 6 - awful awful awful) has the hugest most adorable smile and when he says across the room "Mith Toweee I need you" or "Mith Towwe here!" I light up - he comes in and hangs his backpack independently, he can move his name to check in and grab a breakfast and NEWSFLASH - this week he started doing the "do now" activities - tracing letters etc. He sits through Morning Meeting and even allows us to greet him each morning  - which is HUGE HUGE HUGE compared to the boy who came in threw his backpack and proceeded to destroy my room. He gets a lot of special treatment - trips to the treasure box, personal play time while friends do work - but he is maintaining appropriate behavior and TODAY - he earned a "Good Job" award at our whole school meeting - and though he said the whole way to the meeting that he didn't want an award - when they called his name he LIT up and ran up there and came back grinning like a Chesire Cat. WHAT a face he has.

I know I'm rambling but if you could see him .... go back and read the posts from the days he flipped chairs and tables - stood on an easel and said "I'm gonna jump" or climbed on counters, refusing to get down - now see the little boy who hugs me on the way out the door and LOVES to be told he had a super day.

Waiting to go to Community Meeting today, I was teaching the kids SkinnaMarinky Dinky Dink SkinnaMarinky Doo - I love know the song I'm sure. Well as I'm doing 1 line - repeat after me - etc - My buddy T jumps in with the whole song - slightly garbled since his language abilities are low, but the WHOLE song and it was an "aawww moment" I just had to watch and smile like an idiot while he behaved like a CHILD who sings and plays and loves to hear his own voice - I couldn't even teach the kids any more of the song, I was all mush inside. : )

Doesn't mean today was perfect - never is. My voice is gone, my head pounding, my body sore - and though it was a half day, it never feels like it. But T is making my day everyday - who woulda thought?!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A week of no posts

I suppose a week of no posts is good - it means I left school earlier than I have since School started - it means I had a little bit of a life last week, and it means it was *relatively* uneventful. Now I'm about to pass out - sinus infection and long day complete with district & foreign visitors who inspected every inch of my room and all of my children as I gave the DRA to a child who was on another planet.....I was about ready to walk out of school in a break down when the British woman asked for my "plaaanns" - lady I've got a zombie in front of me who I'm asking to read - even though she doesn't know the letter A from the number 1 and the scores are due in the system by Friday. Meanwhile the other 21 children are having a hay day around my room - throwing center activities, screaming, rolling on the carpet, and tracing letters in shaving cream (to which the British lady asked what they were doing in the white mess...).....Ok so my plans? To SURVIVE the testing window and to MAKE it through the end of the day without coughing out my esophagus and oh by the way to show LOVE to 22 monkeys who forgot how to go to school as we celebrated the man who abused natives. Yup. Happy Tuesday - oh and here are my plans.....

Saturday, October 02, 2010

18 Days

Friday we sang "The More We Get Together" - starting in a squatting position and standing or squatting everytime we said the word "together.' The kids loved it and my knees are killing me because we did it A LOT! I also taught them "Shake my Sillies Out" and then because it was day 3 of indoor recess we skipped laps around the classroom to the Cotton Eyed Joe, did the Cha Cha Slide, and the Hokey Pokey - all in a row! They were whiney and fidgety yesterday. Cute but wiggly.

During breakfast I moved my little friend M's seat - he is a chatty little guy with pudgy cheeks and expressive eyes, and incredible dance moves. He is friends with everyone and no matter where he sits, he never gets his work done. Moved him and promptly heard "Miss Stowe stinks" about 3 times loud enough that he was intentional about it. So we had the "don't be mad at me for your bad choice" conversation...funny how much a 4 year old can understand. We have spent every day reviewing what it "looks like" and "sounds like" to be a learner....they're getting good at it! Not sure it's sinking in but they can talk a good talk.

I really need to write down quotes better - been some good ones lately.

Read the very hungry caterpillar yesterday : ) love it.

My para read the kissing hand a couple days ago - love that one too!

Lost my biggest behavior issue to a magnet .... don't expect he'll stay there long.

T - my buddy from Boy's Village fell in love with the 1968 fisher price parking garage Matt got for my class - very cute. He had a  good day yesterday but Thursday was so bad. Yesterday he worked for silly bands in my treasure box - and gum which he promptly swallowed - 2x. And Go Diego Go.

New favorite show? Olivia - my kids worked to watch it during dismissal - SO cute. It's the pig from the book - check out : ).

More later .... favorite day of the week to clean my apartment - which I LOVE to do! Love my kitten, love my space, love weekends in my space and then I'm going to the Big E - perfect fall weekend. But they are WAY to short.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

It was a long day.

I was mean - I barked. The kids were AWFUL. One of the worst won't be coming back .. moving schools. Should be happy. But I'm torn.
My special friend T - had a not good day today after 3 good days (miracles all of them) and I know he's leaving but I'm attached. It was a good start to the week, feeling like I could love my job and all my kids and then there was today.

Friday, September 24, 2010

13 Days of School

Well it's 6:15pm on a Friday - when I left school at 5:40, my principal and at least 10 teachers were still in the buildings...pretty impressive. I on the other hand could not stand the damp, sticky, sweaty smell and feel of my classroom for another minute. Don't get me wrong, I am loving every busy, exhausting repetitive second but at some point I have to tell myself to let go. No amount of extensive over planning will guarantee that they can sit crisscross, no massive activities will hold them for 8 hours without restless wiggling, excessive giggles, sporadic spasms (literally....fists pumping wildly for 30secs in the middle of learning time), or refusals to listen. It happens. They are 4 - all but 3 of them belong in PreK and they are tired, like me, but instead of slouching or sighing they freak out and express their exhaustion by tearing about the room with wild animal like howls. Yes.

One slept for 1.5 hours on her knees in her chair, when I gently shook her awake, she wandered about the classroom like a zombie. 2 others refused to hear anything I had to say - went to another room, 1 came back ready 1 not so much. My little Turkish speaking friend was mean, wild, loud, and knew "be quiet" as it came from my mouth a couple hundred times, specifically addressed at her with drastic hand motions and acting. My friend who speaks Spanish rapidly punched and kicked people, as I yelled in his direction "NECESITAS SER UN BUEN AMIGO O NO PUEDES VENIR A ESCUELA" really now? Because really most of them are not good friends but how else do I explain that making guns out of unifix cubes or punching friends in line is unacceptable?

And Tantrums? where in my education courses did we learn effective strategies for children who squeal like stuck pigs while shaking or kicking their chair, wildly flailing, kicking shoes, screaming louder and longer when you threaten that they can tantrum at recess.

My goal of calling every parent with something positive has not happened - so this weekend I endeavor to write a note for every child with a positive statement....even if it is that they are eager to share ideas - READ: never shuts up.

I love them, I love their voices when they say Miss Stowe look! Miss Stowe I missed you! Miss Stowe when do you go home? But if someone gets out of their seat or repeatedly says my name - making it louder and more syllables every time, only because they are tattling on the kid across from them who is using a blue crayon instead of green, I might throw the crayon .... at a kid? Probably not. But I would throw it.

And the beads - oh my goodness the beads. I am going to ask moms to use felt or foam beads from now on. Ridiculous.

My one precious delight looks at me through her beads as she sits cowboy style in her chair and scoots across the room. "No, I don't want to miss recess." "OK then follow my directions." "No." "Well then you are choosing to miss recess because you have 2 choices here - follow directions or stay inside to practice following directions during recess." shakes head. Oh my gosh. 10 times during rest time I said her name - asking her to close her mouth and put her head down. 10 seconds after I said her name, she looked directly at me and began to talk to the person across the room from her.....the WHOLE class was resting...but not this friend. She loves to look defiantly at you through her silly pink beads and do what you least want her to do. Her mom and I will be having a chat this weekend because I am at a loss.

One 4 year old hacks like an old woman - obediently uses her elbow but gross! One pees her pants several times a day and doesn't want to change because she is afraid her mom will be upset. One can never remember where her seat is. One speaks strange mumbled words while I am talking. Another hums incessantly. Two are missing their front teeth - pulled out - adorable. One insists on leaning on me at all times.

22 of them consume 110% of my energy, time, love, and patience on a daily basis.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"just 1 box for my 2 feet!"

"Are you ready for the hall?"

"Yes we're standing straight and tall!"

Used this photo today to reiterate through what it looks like to be in school because Mondays are SO SO SO hard. For EVERYONE.

I am exhausted.
I ran laps chasing my runner/yeller/obstinate kid today. He finally collapsed in the library - where I phoned for help...and where he was told he would be sent home. To which he yelled that he did not want to go back to "the Village" and would call his daddy to come get him (dad and mom don't have custody...). I also took his feet off the top of the cafeteria tables...and his strong forceful body fought me the whole way.

I had 2 students new to kindergarten - new to class - new to school (ever!) arrive...cute...but 1 is out there...we talked all day about friends and at the end of the day I asked them to draw a picture of them and a friend. Mind you we had gone around the circle and shared a friends name, something we do with friends, read 3 stories about friends, and discussed at length how to draw friends in the picture part of the paper. As I handed each student a piece of paper, they told me what they were drawing...and she told me correctly on the 5th try - despite all 22 kids saying "Me and a friend." Then when I came to see how she was doing, she had drawn approximately 300 "1s" on her paper - literally. I asked her what happened and she said, "I don't know, my hand just drew numbers." Whaaattt???

A girl who speaks Turkish (who by the way I greeted IN Turkish today, thanks to the Turkish man selling pocketbooks in NYC this weekend), a boy who speaks Spanish, a boy who pees himself on purpose, a girl who throws tantrums, a boy who "owns" the classroom, a runner who lives at the Village, and now a girl whose hands have a mind of their own. Yup. Class act.

Oh and the BEADS. Let me tell you how many times I say "mouths are quiet, hands are quiet, beads are quiet." They clink and clank like the things we used to put on bike spokes.

But I love it.

Sunday Nights

Sunday nights my mind races. My body is rested - briefly - and my energy is high having slept in and laid low all day. Enjoying sunshine, music, the company of my loving best friend, and coffee...I am able to escape the overwhelming, swirling, all-consuming thoughts of school. And then 11pm rolls around. Tomorrow at this time I will be passed out, sore, exhausted, possibly crying, and terrified of another day. But tonight, I am wide awake. The week is only my 2nd full week with the kids and it holds promise of growth - the ability to make it through a day without tantrums, for the kids to enter the room, hang up their backpack, and pull out their red folder, find their name on the check in board, and take a breakfast, without reminders...The possibility of a quiet line, the potential for group activities, for pulling individuals for testing while the rest of the class works independently ... possibility is a big word.

But there is also the potential for melt downs, dangerous fits that cause chairs to fly, scissors to be hurled across the room, and papers to be torn. The potential for urine covered floors which are splashed intentionally by spiteful children, and the potential for eye rolling, half obedient half stubborn behaviors which threaten to pull the whole class off task and destroy hours of learning and practice.... these things have already occurred and will probably occur again.

but then there is the certainty of the faces - the bright, smiling, colorfully beaded, and crisply uniformed figures of 4 year olds eager to see me. Flying into the room with a "HI I AM HERE!" and a tight hug before they take off to terrorize their classmates. The certainty that someone will say "I love you Miss Stowe" before dismissal, and the certainty that someone will either ask me why I am eating (during lunch...) and whether I go home after school...The certainty that when I am most fed up with the difficult aspects of being a 1st year teacher, I can take 30 secs to look at the faces sitting criss-cross applesauce around me (or trying) and think, "I really do love this...most of the time!"

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

day 2

It's bedtime - I'm exhausted but case anyone is curious about my survival I thought I would force myself to reflect for a minute.

I LOVED today. Waited with eager anticipation for familiar faces coming to my door - met each face with a handshake/hug and the directions "find a cubby and let's find your name to move it "I am here"" And every one of the 17 that came arrived in perfect timing, giving me just a few seconds with each child. I know it won't always be like that, so I enjoyed it.

Then breakfast - late - more cereal with milk (seriously...pancakes - eggs - anything would be better than my entire class pouring milk on apple jacks). 3 milks were sour and chunky (gross). 3 kids thought their milk tasted like juice (gross). One child ate two breakfasts...he was hungry. Turns out he was a lot of things, including a heart breaker, as he was suspended part way through the day. Mostly to get the home he is living at to come get him and also because he doesn't belong in a regular education classroom. : (. He bolted after breakfast and thankfully the librarian was in the room so I could chase him. He is so little but he is a bulky kid with a lot of will power, a whole lot of anger, and no family. Not to mention I think he has FAS and he has a different thinking process than most children...needless to say I can't give him the right support and so we hope he will find his way into a school with behavior specialists who can help him. In the meantime I hurt for him. : (

My little friend who is named after what a princess wears on her head - yes - Tiara - threw only 2 tantrums today, not as loud and not as only came off once. My other friend refused to leave the cafeteria and the playground - forcing me to use his parents, tomorrow's recess, and storytime as threats - things I would never use...well his parents perhaps.

Centers were the roughest part today - we didn't "freeze" well and so it was hard to move them around. I suppose we will practice that tomorrow. I need to think it through better. Lining up was good - songs work for everything...they came in humming my good morning song so I suppose that's a good sign. 4 kids fell asleep, wore them out I guess and let them rest for almost an hour. I need new kids songs, I have exhausted Head and Shoulders as well as If You're Happy and You Know it. Time to dig out some Raffi songs.

I need to plan for a few minutes and I am realizing today's reflection doesn't read well or flow....but I guess I'm just fried. I'm in trouble when it's a full week!

Still - I love every single second.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Day 1

The first day of my first year - complete with the Mayor the Superintendent, the district people, NBC camera crews, and both principals in a room of crying, wiggling, stubborn 4 year olds wearing graduation caps. Oh my goodness. Suffice to say I cried when my principal asked how the day went...feel ridiculous now when I look back and realize that we did centers, we read 3 stories, sang 4 songs, drew pictures, put stickers on our names, walked in the hall, had recess, survived someone refusing to come in, survived 3 tantrums - from the same child, complete with kicking off shoes and back arching, survived a wheezing, feverish child who was removed from his home last night, and a reading, talking (with no filter) 4 year old who tried to run the room. Not to mention a child who only speaks Turkish.

Yeah and I'm smiling - breathing -and exhausted on the other side. Why I cried? I think the daunting task of going from chaos to reading is overwhelming. I don't know where to start with them. But it felt of it anyway.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Room 17

"You have Brains in your head and feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose!" The words face you as you leave my bright, warm, and Dr. Seuss-filled room that now smells of air freshener and new crayons. Name tags are down, boards are almost done, the finishing touches today. I soak up the silence, broken by the jazz I am playing to keep calm. I love it. I am here, I have keys to a room that is mine...I have 23 students who will meet me tomorrow and in a few short months leave me to be big 1st graders...and in the mean time I have the responsibility of teaching them how to be little people - respectful, kind, independent, reading, speaking, computing, cleaning, and writing, little people. YIKES!! I don't even know how to start. I wonder if it is possible to be overprepared. 2 bachelor degrees and 1 master's later I don't feel any more ready than I did after the first degree...or even after my first education class....

Here goes.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Settling into a new space is exciting - expensive - exhausting - and here I am at 12:30 am - I have to be up by 6:45am and all I hear are noises. What was that? How did something fall if no one is there to make it move? What's creaking? Who's outside? Did I lock the doors (for the 100th time). Things I've never worried about or thought about and suddenly it's my home...and it's up to me to make it cozy, safe, sleepable, visitable, and familiar.

I'll just lay here until the house is familiar with me then...go ahead, make noise, I'll learn to love them and I learn to call this place my first home away from home.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

those questions everyone asks

So I fly out tonight to start my job on Monday and every time I see someone who knows me or my family, I get these questions...

1. when do you start: Monday
2. Why so early: It's a Tier 3 Turnaround School with a Brand new faculty - lots to change before school starts
3. When do the kids start: September 1
4. What grade: Kindergarten
5. How cute! : yes I am excited.
6. How old: mostly 4 years old New haven is the least strict district about the cut off age.
7. Are you ready? : Well I think so ... but I have some shopping to do.
8. How Many? : Probably 25 or so
9. Full day or half day? : Full - extended day - school day is about and 1.5 hours longer than a normal school.
10. What does turn around mean?: It means they were failing, they fired their faculty and only hired back 4 teacher - the rest of us are new hires and are all in agreement about what good urban ed looks like.
11. Are you so excited? : Yes but I have also been having nightmares every night about the first day of school.
12. Where are you living? : About 5 mins from my school in an apartment I haven't seen yet - I move in on Friday.

I LOVE to talk about my job ... but those are the top 12 questions : ).

Also - Sunday I will pick up a play kitchen for my classroom and Tuesday some potato heads and a dollhouse - very exciting!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

airports induce writing.


Molly Hatchet Band – in white Reeboks – who are they?
Middle of the terminal is a mosaic in shades of blue tile, and everyone stops right in the middle to look around…moving or trying, dodging wheels and legs and small heads that dart about at knee height. Older woman almost knocked over in the bathroom by someone with suitcase. We are all just running around.

Once again in an airport and naturally inspired to write – but it has been awhile and it feels good.

The man with the ugly cardigan tied around his tiny waist and his LV bag doesn’t realize there is a line behind him and takes his time. He also doesn’t seem to notice the haze or 85+ degree weather.

Book stores smell familiar and I love it but none appeal. My protein yogurt smoothie hits the spot and the baby next to me is smiling up a storm.

My mind races from what happened since Monday – suddenly I’m headed to Denver and meanwhile my heads wraps itself around kindergarten – 4 years olds who don’t know up from down and left from right but by the time they leave me, will know the basics of reading and math skills not to mention they will have acquired a level of responsibility, personality, and independence. Yikes.

First class is seated….time to pack up and scope out my seat mates, yet again. Converse? Possibly. Get lost in my book? Likely. Write? Probably not where wandering eyes might judge my interest in musing. Later perhaps.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

the bus stop

Arriving with a passing glance over the shoulder, seeking the white rim of the large squealing bus with its neon green banner. A studious glance at the waiters...ipods in, eyes on the ground, hands shoved in pockets - occasional glance down the road for the same white rim. Curious about how long they've been there - whether it's worth waiting or whether walking would be better, seems to break the code of silence.

I ask.

one girl pretends to not see my lips moving in her direction through her blasting soundtrack. A guy looks at me, realizes I'm talking but considers turning his music louder - so I ask again, has the green line come yet? He stops his music, laboriously takes the headphone out of one ear and says "huh?" I repeat my question "dunno, been here a couple minutes." Headphone back in, eyes down, finger monotonously pushes play. Waiting resumes.

Wait, watch, eye the faces passing, trudging, skipping, jogging, leisurely strolling. Another waiter joins the crew of now four and stares at us, pondering whether she should wait or walk I'm sure. We stare in the same direction, heads cocked oddly at the distance, watching every non-white rim of every car, suv, and van as they proceed at a stop and go pace pausing for pedestrians and continuing on by, unnoticing of the waiters at the plexiglass hut.

Who made those rules? Why do we wait and stare and not speak and awkwardly all do the same thing and then all do the same shuffle as the bus approaches, side to side, forward then back, forward and glance - can I step ahead of this person, side to side, preparing hands to grip handles in the doorway, barely awknowledging those already on the bus who also did the standard wait. Sit and stare - knowing the route but staring as if something new might pass and anything to avoid the eyes of others.

Leave the bus past waiters who stand in a familiar fashion and eye the departing passengers waiting their turn.
Walk away, hear the bus - dismiss the experience, it was just a bus ride after all.

Monday, March 08, 2010

March Comes in Like....

a warm glow
wind through cracked windows
throw them wide.

Gamble on the weather, give the dice a throw
Curtain twirl and billows.
There's no need to be inside.

Just this day and maybe the next
trust in the sun
breath in the life that fills the air;

the sounds read like text
as I'm tempted by fun
and cannot help but stare.

Hope and a smile
sneezes and a giggle
at the sillyness of feeling so alive in the light.

and a very poor attempt at putting it into words.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Is it the wrong side of the bed - time conversations
without resolution
New Year's or not
ready to start a day
that's almost impossible to tackle
even armed with faith and friends
who try but can't understand entirely
the way you can
but can't
seem to find peace
or rest
And the wave has to break
or break you and it rolls
but it swells and instead gets bigger
as you get smaller
than the problems you are facing
with eyes that are burning with tears
which threaten to spill over
the hours and minutes and seconds that add
together accumulating
a power not their own and a misery not determined by the circumstances or people or places or sleep
but the choice to react
to the terrible horrible no good things
make us tired and angry and grumpy
was a dwarf
but the day is not, it's a giant
until it falls
like the sun and snow and the water
streaming from the shower head with my tears
which clean and refresh like sleep
which comes
like the sun with tomorrow

which is, after all another day
that brings hope and joy, peace and promise
of opportunity and security
is knowing that it will be

another day.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

flail harder
drip sweat
stare at the time
try not to breathe through the mouth
flail more gracefully
fling sweat from eyes
try not to pant
attempt to drink without falling
stare at the time
stare at the calories
stare at the distance covered
will legs to keep moving
stare at people nearby
watch old men lift weights
watch muscular sticks run fast
wipe sweat
lick lips
feel thirsty
up difficulty
flail a lot
stare at one minute remaining
cool down