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.