#29 Rebooting Kindergarten


November 29th, 2010

Not sure what happened but we may need to restart kindergarten.

Academically we’re doing fine. We’ve got adding figured out. Subtracting is coming along. Everyone knows shapes and colors and patterns and counting.

We know letter sounds and can sound out words, we’re on track for reading.

But the whole being respectful thing? Apparently they can be nice or be smart but not both at the same time.

We’re going to have to work on that.

They got a taste of it today. Nothing major, just some small privileges here and there taken away…it wasn’t a pretty sight.

There were several temper tantrums, a little rebellion and I think I heard rumblings of an overthrow of power.

#23 Dear Children, Please Don’t Terrify the Sub


November 23rd, 2010

Dear Kindergarten Class,

You have a lot of, shall we say, spunk?
It can be intimidating. Actually, you can be down right terrifying.
Especially to teacher who are trained to teach 9th grade.
Please go easy on the sub while I’m gone. Just this once.
I’m running out of people who will cover for me.
And I really need a break once in a while.

Thanks.

+++++++++++++++
On an unrelated note, we drove 12 hours today. Milo stayed calm and quiet for most of the trip. Probably because he invented a new game: Pelt your sisters with animal crackers.

#18 Underwear is Not Optional


November 18th, 2010

Dear Kindergarten Parents,

I understand that you are allowing your children independence and the freedom to express themselves in the way they dress. I get that – I really do.
See?

Cowboy Ballerina Fairy

However, might I suggest that you insist your children wear underwear? You see, kindergarteners are not the best at remembering to button, snap or zip pants after using the bathroom and the mayhem that ensues after your child flashes and/or moons the class is a little more than I can manage on a daily basis.

Thanks in advance,
Your child’s teacher.

P.S. Husky sizes were made for kindergarten boys. Just sayin’.

#5 Kindergarten Funny*


November 5th, 2010

(While walking in line – Kid A gets pushed by Kid B (an accident).)

Kid B: Sorry.

Kid A:(in a menacing voice) I have three words for you. *holds up fingers 1 at a time* You. Stop. Now.

****************

I have a sleep-walker in my class. He falls asleep during rest time and wakes up about 25 minutes later. While still asleep, he folds up his mat and puts it away. Usually someplace like under a table or on the bookshelf. Then he stumbles around the room bumping into things and walking into the walls. The first time he did it, I thought he was just messing with me and trying to be funny. Now I have a few kids who fight falling asleep just so they can be awake if M starts sleep-walking.

****************

The new girl in my class is freakin’ hilarious. Yesterday we had a discussion on how you feel when you make a good choice. Her response was (and keep in mind, she sort of sounds like Mickey Mouse), “Weeeeeeellllllllllll, I guess (long pause), I gueeesss, I would just feel terrific! (and at this point she pumped her fist in the air, Tony the Tiger style.)

*****************

*I’ll try and limit the kindergarten stories. I realize that 90% of my readers don’t think kindergarten is as funny as I do.

#2 Things I Say In Kindergarten….


November 2nd, 2010

(Yes, I’ve had all of these conversations)

Me: Why did you color on the chair?
Kid: You said no coloring on the table.
***************
“When it’s bathroom break, you need to go into the bathroom and pee. Don’t just wash your hands and come out.”
***************
“All pee goes in the toilet. Do not pee on the playground, classroom or bathroom floor.”
***************
“Kindergarteners! Nobody gets to take anyone’s shoes from them.”
***************
Me: Why is there underwear on the floor?
Kid: It fell out of my pocket.
Me: (long pause) Nevermind.
***************

I’ll add more when I remember them….or you know, after I talk to my class tomorrow.

Last (few) Days of School – A recap


June 7th, 2010

Wednesday. Jeremy and I took the student council rollerskating as a thank-you for all their hard work. Most the kids had never skated before. They didn’t know the difference between rollerskates and rollerblades. Much of the afternoon was spent watching them half-shuffle, half-crawl around the rink. The kids who could skate whipped around the rink pretty fast but after passing me two or three times shouted out “HOW DO WE STOP?”

Thursday. The all school picnic/field day. This involved games in the morning and hanging out in the afternoon. There was the dodge ball tournament. Grade levels played each other until we had three semi-finalists. Each of those teams played the teacher team. The teachers beat the first graders, beat the third graders and lost to the seventh grade. It’s very satisfying to throw a ball at a kid who has been driving you nuts all year.

Friday. We had an ice cream party because my class and a third grade class brought in the most money for our Water for Africa campaign. The school raised close to $400 for charity:water to help build a well for a school. My class was so exhausted from the field day on Thursday that I had to wake them up from rest time at 1:30 (normally they are wide awake at 12:50). Even with the promise of ice cream I could barely get them off their mats. I served up the ice cream and they were still a little dazed. They requested a movie instead of “partying”. We watched Matilda.

Tuesday. We cleaned, organized, played, took things off walls and packed things up.

Wednesday. We went to the Ordway to see a Kenyan dance troop. My class loved it. I was happy that Tuesday was our last day of recess so there was no opportunity to try the aerobatics they had just witnessed.

Thursday. Graduation day. Kindergarten in caps and gowns, looking adorable. There are two days of the year when all of them are cute: the first day of school and graduation. I am very proud of this class. They came together as a whole. They worked hard, supported each other and I’m really sad not to be their teacher anymore. They’re my favorites.

Friday. Last day of school. School was optional for the graduates. I only had six students. (well, seven if you count the one girl who insisted her mom bring her so she could say good-bye and then left an hour later.) But it was a fun six. We scrubbed tables, sorted toys, cleaned cubbies, and got things ready for the new kindergarten. The six of them worked really hard to get everything just right. I got a little choked up at bus time saying good-bye. The first five weren’t too bad, a hug and a high-five and they were off. My last student, well, he surprised me. He’s easily one of my biggest behavior issues, pushing everything as far as he can, just to see what would happen. He’s also one of my brightest, reading chapter books and doing math in his head. We had a very strong love-hate relationship.
Here’s how bus time went down:
Me: Hug or high-five?
Him: Hug.
Me: (giving him a hug) Hey, I’m proud of you. You worked hard this year. You drove me crazy but you worked hard and you’ll do great in first grade.
Him: Can I come to school on Monday? My dad said I could stay home today but I wanted to come. Home’s no fun. I like school. I could come help you clean on Monday.
Me: Sorry, it’s just teacher’s on Monday.
Him: Well, how many days until first grade? They’ll save a spot for me in first grade, right?
Me: (trying not to be too teary-eyed) Absolutely.
Him: Well…okay. I’ll see you.

And now it’s three days of filling out report cards, taking inventory, pulling staples from the walls, and re-cleaning everything the kindergarten helped me clean.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten


March 31st, 2010

(a guide for Global Leadership)

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:
Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Flush.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

[Source: “ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN” by Robert Fulghum. See his web site at http://www.robertfulghum.com/ ]

Do not mess with my class.


February 25th, 2010

Yes, kindergarten students are little and cute and they say the darnedest things but people, you are making my job really hard.

When you see them walking in a line, across two parking lots and you hear the teacher repremand the class for stopping to throw snowballs, it is not, I repeat NOT, a good idea to lob a snowball at the line of students and then laugh. And don’t acted so shocked when you get reamed out by the teacher for being a bad example.

When the entire class is sitting quietly outside the bathroom, do not come out of the teacher’s lounge and tell the girls they are so cute and beautiful and tell the boys they are handsome and strong. It’s not helpful. You leave in your wake 18 kids who are a) so giggly they can’t calm down b) so embarrased they can’t calm down c) so pissed off because you said she was beautiful but the boy in the class said “no she isn’t” so she hit him and then he pushed her and now they are both in trouble.

When they are walking in the stairs, don’t stop and chat with them right after you hear me say “no talking in the stairs.” They are 5 and remembering not to talk to you. You are, what? 45?, how come you can’t just walk by quietly.

And for the love of all things holy, DO NOT start saying “HIGH 5!” as you walk past my students. If you do, I will walk away and you are now in charge of all of them and good luck because everytime you’ve done this, 5 minutes later is supposed to be rest time. Have fun.

Sometimes, my class is cute.


February 3rd, 2010

We started learning about Community Helpers on Monday. We’ve been learning about the different jobs people have, what they do, tools they need, all that fun stuff.

Today, as we came in from recess, there was a Marine also waiting to get into the building (our school is on the third floor of a huge office building). He was dressed in his dress uniform and as he waited for us to pass he looked like he was standing at attention. My students were in absolute awe. Once we were all inside and starting up the stairs and he was out of sight, the questions started: “What’s his job?” “Is he a community helper?” “Can I be that when I grow up?” “Is he real?” “He’s so cool!”

We had to stop on the stairs (because kindergarteners can ‘t walk and talk at the same time) and I tried to quickly answer their questions. While we were there, the Marine passed us going back down the stairs with whoever he was picking up. As he passed my class decided to speak up. A couple kids called out as he passed, “You’re a Community Helper! Thank you! You’re doing a really good job!”

Hope it made him feel good to know that a bunch of kids think he’s a pretty cool guy.

Oh, and the questions, didn’t stop for the rest. of. the. day. I’m thinking I need to find a Marine to come to my class and talk to the kids about their job….

Class Rules


January 6th, 2010

At the beginning of the year we created the rules for our classroom. According to Responsive Classroom, class rules should be entirely student generated. But in kindergarten when you ask a group of 5 year olds what the rules should be you get this list:

  1. Don’t hit
  2. Don’t push
  3. Don’t kick
  4. Don’t punch
  5. Don’t run
  6. Don’t yell
  7. Don’t slap
  8. Don’t bite
  9. Don’t throw things
  10. Don’t be mean
  11. Don’t talk
  12. No running
  13. No spitting
  14. No fighting
  15. No being mean
  16. No yelling
  17. No shouting
  18. No being loud
  19. No wrestling
  20. No stealing

And that’s the shortened version. When I let them start suggesting rules I usually get close to 50 or 60 “don’t's” and “no’s”. That’s a whole lot of things we aren’t allowed to do. And an insane list to remember.

So, I have to start tweaking the list to a more positive wording and narrowing it down. There is a long conversation which is mostly me saying things like “Hitting and kicking and punching and slapping and hurting other people is something we godn’t want to do. So can we make the rule be “Keep your hands and feet to yourself?” And I’ll be honest, in the end, the rules end up being the 5 rules that I use every year in kindergarten. (1. Keep your hands and feet to yourself. 2. Share. 3. Listen when someone else is speaking. 4. Walking feet. 5. Be respectful)

And every year in January we re-evaluate and re-write our class rules. Since we have to spend the first week in January re-learnign the whole routine anyway, might as well start fresh with new rules.

So today we sat and made the long list of ideas for rules. However, I told them none of the rules could start with the word “don’t” or “no”. I wanted all positive language. I wanted the rules to state what we could (and should) do, not what we couldn’t do.

I was seriously impressed with their list. If they suggested a “don’t” rule, the rest of the class immediately corrected them – YOU CAN’T SAY DON’T! – but after the shouting, they gave the student a chance to rephrase their idea.

The list included:

  1. Be best friends
  2. Be good
  3. Listen when people talk
  4. Be nice
  5. Be kind
  6. Be helpful
  7. Be respectful
  8. Tell the truth
  9. Walk
  10. Take care of the toys and books
  11. Only dig and build with sand or snow
  12. Share
  13. Have fun
  14. Learn
  15. Say please
  16. Watch where you are walking in line
  17. Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough (this one made me laugh out loud. Earlier this year, I had over half my class hit with H1N1. I had them hand-santizing and going through tissues like good little germ0phobes. At least they were paying attention.)

We then talked about how some rules were pretty similar and they decided to have 6 rules total. The final list (with barely any influence from me):

1. Be safe

2. Be good

3. Be kind

4. Be respectful

5. Tell the truth

6. Have fun

Now, we’ll see if they stick to the new rules.