Monday, March 28, 2011

kicking myself

I have started, saved, lost numerous posts and therefore numerous moments where I melt, clench my jaw, or laugh hysterically with my 21 learners. It is now March and there is an abyss in my journal of January-until now. In fact, in 3 short days it will be April.

 I suppose I could blame it on fantastic gains - which are true - but should also contribute it to an engagement and carefully juggling wedding plans, a social life (kind of), and planning for fantastic gains....all of which do not work well with each other at all!

Needless to say today was a BEAUTIFUL day in SO many ways, in fact out of sheer exhaustion and overwhelming joy at where I am right now, I might cry while writing and it would be refreshing.

My  wonderful para was out today - remarkably the kids are different when she's not there, as if they know they have to listen....I don't understand it and I am so incredibly grateful for her that I don't really know how to describe what happens, but the kids and I are different. The day started with me teaching them a new good morning song, "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" - which I rarely do with my para there because I won't sing in front of grown ups....they LOVE when I sing.

We were silly during phonics as "word detectives" "Sound detectives" with serious detective faces and all...and they were more attentive than ever. They went to their centers- they were relatively on task. They were delightful at lunch. They loved the story.

Then it was math....I knew I was introducing sorting, I had grand ideas of how to do so in a "grown up" and serious fashion and suddenly my spontaneous nature overthrew my dutiful studious perspective. I grabbed the bag of 50 shapes - red, green, yellow, blue (squares, rectangles, 2 sizes of circles each) and dumped it on the floor then mocked being upset by asking who made the big mess. With peels of laughter they pointed at me and I shook my head - began blaming students. They giggled profusely. I brought them back, I said "well if you're not going to tell me who made the mess, you could at least help me sort it out" and proceeded to tell them what it means to sort and we spent about 35 exploratory minutes playing with sorting .... nothing definitive, very open and some great conversation. WOW. It was like being an intern with M2 again - kids "adding on" to each other's ideas left and right, "arguing" about how to sort, deciding what looked best, giggling at my silly questions. Only 1 student - my JD, fresh as can be, was beginning to sigh, wondering why it was I couldn't figure it out myself. But then again she had done that during reader's workshop too, when I was pretending I didn't know a word and tried to use first sounds to help me read. She was clearly irritated and said "don't you know it?"
The rest of them LOVED it - and as I dismissed them to line for recess I heard "you're the best teacher ever" though that is not the case, I realize they live for the excitement and spontaneity that I enjoy but don't use in the room. What happened to my fun-loving teaching style? I'm not really sure, but I want it back.

Then there was recess - jump ropes, chalk and bubbles - never before used at recess all together, and they loved it. Then I drew them a hopscotch and about 7 of them stood in line for 20 minutes or so waiting to jump, watching me model it over and over again. It was a blast.

I adore them. I chuckle at them in the morning - MB today came in as a ballet dancer ...twirling away in her own world - even to the garbage to throw away her breakfast. RB wanted to know why we didn't have school on Saturday. TP was in good spirits! Princess friend .... she had a tantrum, first in awhile. My special buddy T? He is turning into quite the learner when he chooses to - I retested his letter ID today - 38 ... pretty much on target, but he fought me the whole way through the exam. Then when his ride home was late - said "Mi'Towe Can I have a piece of gum?" How do I say no? Of course, handed him a piece and it was met with the biggest grin. Told him to have a good night "ok" he said back.

My friends are READING - yes READING. How does that happen? I don't even know! The light switch goes on and I really don't know how - I don't feel like I've taught enough but it is there - some of them are really decoding....amazing amazing stuff. The rest of following patterns, finding sight words, noticing structure, punctuation, and pictures. It's fantastic. There are times when I just want to watch them go through the day. I want to sit back and it's hard to keep chugging. They have to grow in all areas - not just reading!

My friends are SPEAKING in full sentences with amazing detail, structure, and thought. Suddenly in the last two weeks I found myself saying "WOW you just made a great sentence with your thinking!" They talk to each other - and when they get mad, they scream " I DON"T LIKE WHEN YOU DO THAT!" Apologize then add on (this is new today) and say "I feel ______ when you do that" and shake hands, find a solution and move on. It's pretty cool.
I really think kindergarten is the best job in the world ..... I won't argue with my principal who says it's hardest - though I could never deal with high schoolers so I don't really know. They are beautiful as an open book that's not yet written but at the same time like an untrained horse who has to learn to WALK not run helter skelter down the hall,   errr sit upside down in a chair, or perhaps shove a friend out of their chair just because you wanted it - though they are all identical sandstone chairs.

They are something else.....and I love them - every single one of their faces - now somewhat closer to mine and older looking. They are going places and I'm running to keep up with them!