Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Tiny Packages

“Good teachers don't approach a child of this age with overzealousness or with destructive conscientiousness. They're not drill-masters in the military or floor managers in a production system. They are specialists in opening small packages. They give the string a tug but do it carefully. They don't yet know what's in the box. They don't know if it's breakable. ” 

As C. jumped out of his chair and half scampered half ran across the room, I shouted in a near shriek, "What went through your head as you ran across the room?? What made you think that was a good idea?!" He retorted with a raspy voice and attitude beyond his 5 years "I don't know." and sauntered with muscle-less legs and arms to the rug where he sat doing nothing until his bus was called. 
Same child who by 10:30am had drawn a yell, "UNBELIEVABLE" from my lips though I was determined to be patient and loving today (and always). He was copying every word his neighbor at my small group table, S. read in the guided reading book. But every word was WRONG and he wasn't even on the same page. REALLY?! 

W. on the other hand had spent the ENTIRE day rattling his own bones, shaking, bouncing, responding to every thing I said, not listening to directions, and a whirling tornado of terror. 

C. ? A ticking time bomb...waiting for him to explode in a fit of rage. 

J? Ok today.... but nonetheless trying. 

the list goes on ... I was not an expert at small packages today, I was a witch tearing through their baggage, their layers of learning, their sleepiness, or even their wonderful 5 year old personalities. They were packages of TNT today - in my defense....but I wasn't gentle, I was chilly and impatient and I hope I am not causing moments that ruin school for W, C, J, angry C, and others.....

B on the other hand? a wonderful transition .... he is new to us - only a week and 1/2 and he has had some tough days but today was not one of them. The transition from a self-contained classroom to our room is certainly exhausting for everyone and it's bundle of differences and situations I am unfamiliar with but it is a learning experience and it's good. 

I decided I had to force myself to reflect on positive so I don't forget why I'm in this...

Ventured into unknown waters this week - real Writer's Workshop ... with no prompt and only the expectation that my students write the whole time, use our writer's rules (finger spaces, lowercase letters, etc) and a functional, usable mini lesson. Results week 1? AMAZING - great quality writing, everyone has something to tell and is doing it effectively. They whined when the timer went off yesterday - actually whined. I was overjoyed!! : ) 
Next step? small groups in writing .... yikes. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

SoyButter Sandwiches

"Our target today is: I can (pause for repeat) tell how to make a soybutter sandwich (pause for repeat)"
"SOYBUTTER YUM!" Is all I heard screamed by a delightful rotund little girl in beads - sitting with her chubby legs out straight in front of her as she leaned against the radiator as if she was in my living room, not on our classroom carpet.
That same little girl was sitting against my leg at a puppet show this morning - arms wrapped around my ankle - and about 15 minutes in she looks up at me giggles and says "This is a puppet show!" Oh yes my friend - welcome to school glad you joined us.... REALLY?!
The things that fly out of her mouth are insanely hilarious. At times we find her in another part of the classroom - hands raised Fiddler on the Roof style, waltzing back and forth and spinning in a circle....and it's as if she's not aware that she should be at her seat or packing up or whatever the rest of the class seems to do just fine without spazzing out!

But the soy butter sandwiches were fun yesterday - they spread it themselves - made a sticky sticky mess of my table ... and ate them - while complaining that they didn't like peanut butter. Oh ok. Good thing it's soy butter.

And now we are writing about it - every day - Yesterday it was the shopping list of what you need - today it was first spread the soy butter on the bread.... tomorrow it will be then spread the jelly.... And Last stick the bread together and eat it! It's cute and though the sentences are scripted together as a class, I'm using it as a teaching point for finger spaces, using only lowercase letters, and keeping words together - because they need that practice without having to worry about their ideas. And it's pretty critical for kids to know how to make peanut butter and jelly ... right?

Tomorrow at recess time I will let only children with a certain attribute have recess - the rest I will leave sitting on the rug. Until they start to get upset.  .... I will have the others clean up recess and pretend as though it's over. We will discuss how they are feeling and read a book about Martin Luther King.  : )
Then I will serve snack only to the friends who didn't get recess and tell the others they don't get snack. Just long enough for them to get upset. Then I'll give everyone snack and a little more recess.
I will repeat the exercise on Tuesday and have them write about it.

I am exhausted and in the hour that this window has been open I have lost my train of thought.....

Sunday, January 08, 2012

And so we push on

January - first full week back begins. I'm unsettled, not tired - though I wish I was.
In the morning the alarm will be rude and loud and I will stumble my way to the shower and through multiple cups of coffee.
Suddenly my little friends have to be pushed - no longer guided gently but gently pushed over the edge. They have to use their wings and probably fall a few times first but suddenly the pressure sinks in, they have to READ, they have to count to 100, they have to WRITE - yikes.
I have to test them - yuck - this month - and I have push myself .... to be consistent, to pay attention, to almost stop enjoying them long enough to get it all done.

Scared the crap out of me. I just want to enjoy their banter, their laughs, their silliness. Sometimes I just have to let go and enjoy it. But this month I have to let go and ignore it.
It is painful.