The Kindergarten Class and the Glue Sticks: A story.


October 24th, 2008

Last Friday the kindergarten class was working on a project that required glue sticks. About 100 glue sticks are kept in a bucket on a shelf, the class is free to get a glue stick and use as needed. All the kindergarteners were working quietly in their seats, cutting and gluing away. And at clean-up time glue sticks were being returned to the bucket, with caps on (very impressive). Then it happened. On one of the tables was a giant purple smear. Not an oops-my-glue-sticks-went-off-the-paper smear but a creation of purple, an entire glue stick devoted to this work of art. I asked the class who did it and this pain in the butt kid named Not Me was apparently the culprit. So, I collected all the remaining glue sticks and declared that there would be no more glue stick use until the artist fessed up.

A week went by. A week of me planning fake glue stick activities just so I could give them all the instructions only to end it with “but we can’t do this fun project because we don’t have our glue sticks back yet.”

Today we had another project and this one the class really wanted to do. As I got to the part about not doing it due to lack of glue stick privillages one student raised his hand and asked, “Can we just sit here until the person who did it tells you? I really want to use the glue sticks again.” The rest of the class agreed this was a good plan. And so we sat. For 10 minutes.

10 minutes of students saying, begging, pleading, with the guilty party to just come forward. And she denied it up and down.

Finally another student shouts out, “Do you want to get into heaven? Because if you do you have to tell the truth. If you keep lying, they aren’t letting you in!”

And apparently, all it takes is a little religious guilt. Because the guilty party confessed, told the class she was wrong for lying and using glue the wrong way and promised not to do it again.

And with that the glue sticks were returned and all is right in the world again.

This may jinx it, but…


September 13th, 2008

…my kindergarten class is pretty good this year. Some of you may remember last year’s boot camp. Last year redefined “difficult students” and I came into this year prepared for the worst. I know that I shouldn’t let my opinion of last year’s class influence my opinion of this year’s class but you didn’t meet last year’s class.

This year however…three weeks into the school year and my pro’s list is longer than my con’s list.

The pro’s:

  • They have volume control. This is huge. I can actually say 1 time to the class “use your #1 voice” and for the remainder of the work time all you hear is the low hum of 5 year olds working.
  • They raise their hands before talking
  • They can be trusted to go to the bathroom without me.
  • I can leave the room for 5 minutes and when I come back they are in the same spots I’ve left them.
  • They rest at rest time.
  • They attempt to do their work before asking me for help.
  • They don’t tattle (much).
  • They clean up without tearing around the room and shrieking.
  • It only took me a week to teach them the routine of the room.
  • They remember the routine.
  • When I do have to discipline the whole class by making them practice, they actually realize that if they fix the problem, the punishment is over.

The cons are few and far between. Their biggest issue is lining up. They can walk in a line just fine. They can line up in the hallway just fine but for whatever reason lining up in our classroom or the lunch room causes them to forget all common sense, forget all rules, forget their spots in line and start with the pushing and the shoving and the worrying about who gets to be first (even though we have a line leader everyday). I’m not really sure why they do this but trust me, we’ll be working on this next week.

As far as the kids go, for the most part they are great. There are only 3 that drive me crazy on a regular basis.

I have the younger sister of one of my boys from last year. And she makes her brother look like a saint. Her current favorite activities in class – starting laughing (while I’m talking) just to see how many kids she can get laughing, doing opposite of what I tell the class (for example Me: I need everyone to cross their legs, please. Her: (looks directly at me and sticks her legs straight out).), and in general making a mental list on how many ways she can irritate me in a single day.

The next kid is only going to be difficult for a few more weeks. He understands English but can barely speak it so his behavior is due to the language barrier and at 6 weeks (almost to the day) every non-English speaker I’ve had has started speaking enough English to feel confident enough to participate in the class. And we had a huge break through on Friday. He learned the phrase “what’s that?” so now, he points and asks that about 300 times a day but it’s better than him not having a clue as to what’s going on and chucking stuff across the room out of frustration. Also, next week the ESL teachers start doing pull-out work and lucky for the kindergarteners our ESL teacher speaks both English and Somali so they really like working with her.

And my third is a boy who has made it very obvious that I am clearly a serious inconvenience in his life. Some examples:

Me: A-M, please stop talking we are waiting for you.

A-M: (in a very exasperated tone) Okay. Fine. (and then the talking starts right back up again).

or

Me: A-M, you need to clean up. I already asked you once and [math, art, learning labs, journaling] is over now. You need to stop and clean up.

A-M: (eyes rolling) Uugh, okay, okay. Fine. (and continues to do what I asked him to stop).

Basically, I’m just in the way of him doing whatever he feels like doing. I’ve already told him that I was going to have to call and talk to his dad about the way he is acting and he looked right at me and said “my dad let’s me stop when I want.” Great. So now I have to fix the behavior of the parent and the kid. Well, it’s going to be a long year for him sitting in the take a break chair.

Dear Parents,


September 8th, 2008

Please do not baby your children.

Thank you.

Signed,

Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher

——

If you are curious if you fall into that category, here’s a list of the things your child should be capable of doing by the time they go to kindergarten.

1. Put on and take off their coat.

2. Zip their coat.

3. Pull up and down their own pants.

4. Button/snap their pants.

5. Eat with a spoon or fork.

6. Hang up coat/backpack on a hook.

7. Follow simple directions (i.e. put your coat on, sit down)

8. Understand what “no” means.

9. Wait their turn.

10. Some concept of sharing.

If your kids can do these things, your kindergarten teacher will be very excited.

Before and After Pictures


September 1st, 2008

Here’s my classroom the Wednesday before school started. At this point I’d already been working about 8 hours moving furniture and getting things set up.

And here’s what it looks like after 3 days of students being in school:

Yes, I do have “under construction” tape over all my shelves. The kids know that they can’t use those toys until they have learned how to play with them appropriately. It will take until about mid-September for all the tape to come off.

Funny Things Kindergarteners Say and the 10 phrases I say over and over…


August 29th, 2008

Kindergarteners:

  1. “Can I off my jacket?” (Can I take off my jacket?)
  2. “He has a bleed.” (He’s got a cut/scrape/bruise/any random minor injury.)
  3. “I like your hair cut” (I like your hair style)
  4. “Why me no?” (Why are you saying no to me?)
  5. “Then you’ll get dead.” (Then you’ll get hurt – it’s amazing how many of my kids have family members who “die” over the weekend, when really they just needed a band-aide)
  6. “The table lost it.” (I put it on the table and now I can’t find it

Ms. Abby:

  1. Hands are not for hitting.
  2. If it’s not food, it does not go in your mouth.
  3. 1-2-3-4 No more.
  4. 5-4-3-2-1-zero voices.
  5. If I can hear you, you’re too loud.
  6. When my voice is on, your voice is off.
  7. I’ll wait.
  8. Are you tatteling? If he’s not bleeding, crying or throwing up, you can fix the problem yourself.
  9. Did you try before you asked me? Go back and try.
  10. Ms. Abby is not a trash can. (For some reason they feel the need to hand me every piece of trash they find on the ground)

And as an added bonus:

The most ridiculous conversation I’ve had in 3 years of teaching kindergarten:

Me: “F, Why is your underwear in the middle of the floor?”

F: “Because it fell out of my pocket.”

“But Marge, that little guy hasn’t done anything yet. Look at him! He’s gonna do something and you know its gonna be good.”


August 28th, 2008

One of the kids in my class is about 4 inches taller than my 2 1/2 year old. And today he decked the tallest kid in kindergarten. I’m not sure what started it (it happened during the chaos of lining up 80 kids to go outside for recess) but I looked and there was the tallest kid in kindergarten doubled over with the wind knocked out of him because my little guy sucker punched him in the gut (or at least I assumed he punched him).

When I question him later the punch was apparently retaliation for calling him short. And I also found out it wasn’t a punch. When this kid is mad, he head-butts people and because of his height, he’s like a battering ram, straight for the stomach. I witnessed his technique when another student decided to try their luck with calling him short. At least this one I was able to stop before he made contact.

First Impressions of Kindergarten


August 25th, 2008

This probably won’t be of interest to anyone but me, but I want to get it down so when I am ready to toss kids out the window in December I can look back and remember that at one point I did think they were cute. And just to warn you, I’ll be doing that annoying initials thing instead of real names just to be on the safe side.

First day started off a little crazy. There was some type of bus mix up (which means they had no idea who to pick up where) so at 7:55 I still had only 8 kids. By the end of breakfast I was up to 13. I had 8 girls and 5 boys which is fine with me. Last year I had 20 kids and only 6 were girls so this year is already looking up.

I know we are still in the “honeymoon” phase of school so I’m not going to pretend that just because today was good the rest of the year will be too but hey, a girl can hope right?

Continue reading »

3 Weeks


March 19th, 2008

I read somewhere that it takes 3 weeks to replace a bad habit with a new, good habit. My kids have been without their stuff for 2 and 1/2 weeks. They are slowly – I repeat – slowly, earning it back.

Here’s what we’ve accomplished:

They earned back the library and the book boxes on their tables.
They earned their jobs back (funny, they earned back the right to do chores…)
They earned half of their learning labs back.
They earned back the puzzle shelf.
They earned back choosing who they sit next to at Morning Meeting.

It’s not a lot, but it’s a good start. About 16 out of my 20 kids have made a genuine effort to change their behavior and are getting really fed up with the 4 that are refusing to change. My only fear is that we will have worked this hard for a whole month and when we come back from spring break it will be back to square one.

Want to Know How Boot Camp Is Going?


March 17th, 2008

Right now I am at work. My kids are all in the room. They have spend the last 4 minutes practicing sitting still and quiet and still have 4 more to go. They wasted 8 minutes of the class time talking instead of listening and so now I’m showing them how long 8 minutes is. They aren’t really happy – and I have a list of kids who will be doing more practicing at recess because they are choosing to make more noise right now.

And it’s only Monday.

And Next Week Will Be Week Three


March 13th, 2008

I had originally thought 2 weeks would be enough of time for my kids to turn their acts around, but next Monday we will be heading into week three. So far all they have earned back is their journals and the puzzle shelf.

We still do all the curriculum and academics but it’s very boring. If it’s a paper that says to write something and then color it, well, they haven’t earned crayons back yet so I guess they don’t get to color. Next week we are going to work on the simple things – crayons, glue, scissors, and if they are really on task, construction paper and paint. Hopefully we can do learning labs again soon, but at this rate, they may be in for a couple months of nothing fun.

We are going on a field trip at the end of the month (well, the ones who earn it are going). It’s to a park commonly referred to as chutes and ladders. (click on the creative play areas link.) We are hoping it helps to cure the cabin fever the kindergarten class is currently suffering from.