A Fable, Maybe

So many plans, so many aspirations. So many dreams, so many hopes. And then the powers that be look down and say, “Wait a minute little lady, nice going, but don’t think you’re getting to them quite yet.” I’d like to tell you a fable, a moral, to behold.  The players many, the roles defined. Time is of the essence, so I’m told. The roots firmly set, keeping us grounded, and then those rainbows, tempting us to dream that dream

                      

Schooling came, with its twists and turns. Early childhood certificate, BA in hand. Then multiple subject credential, add a Masters to the band! Education set, but learning never done. Family, husband, kids and so that journey goes. Highs, lows unfold and mostly told. Grandkids, blessings shine on us. Job, found my space, my place. I’m good, staying put. Travel the world, so much to see, check list ✅ some boxes done. Bucket list for retirement, twist and turns, not quite the dream come true. 
Then one day reality hits. Dreams are good, reach high I say, never know, you may touch the sky. The waning years, the aches and pains, the friends who meet, fewer then before. Dining out we have our talks, not always cheery, not so upbeat. Then one laughs, “We are like the old-fogies, we said we’d never be!” We chuckle, then back to medicines and doctor visits, once more. 
This not a fable, I’ve told. How great, so BOLD to say this journey still unfolds. 


Thinking about our kinders as risk takers (academic and otherwise), decided to be one today. A different post. 

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A Post I’ve Never Written: Valentine’s Day

I took a few minutes to check Facebook and Twitter, seeing all the Valentine’s Day posts. And I said to myself, “Hmmm, I wonder if I’ve ever written about Valentine’s Day, from any perspective? And I hadn’t, so here are some thoughts and reflections.”

Valentine’s Day not on my radar as a kid. Not sure why, but no boy friends and not something family or friends celebrated. Married at 19 my first “Valentine” was my husband. Not a lot of spare cash, but a big heart and wonderful notes. “You are my Valentine, now and forever. Save this coupon (delightfully decorated card), and the ones to follow, and one day you can redeem for your dream gift.” We’d laugh because I’d say, “Oh I have my dream gift, you! But I’ll hold you to it.” These coupons came on birthdays and anniversaries. Babies came along, busy life and coupons were few and far between. One day found in a drawer, we laughed and reminisced about the coupons and how they were redeemed many time over, with my dream gift.

A new twist and I became a teacher. Here Valentine’s Day became a “thing.” (My children went to a Jewish Day School, no valentines there. As they went on to public school, friendships changed, Valentine’s Day became a thing.) In the early childhood programs, arts and crafts, finger paint with pinks, reds and purple and Valentines Bags to take home cards. Party with treats to celebrate the day. No one left out. You make a card for everyone! I know, the parent project some dreaded. Kept parties under control. It worked. Teacher treats shared with my family along the way. (David 9, Marni 7 more or less when I started teaching.) Fast forward to kindergarten, Valentine’s Day a big thing. Arts and crafts, making bags to take home valentines. Everyone makes one, everyone gets one. We read books, we set aside time to distribute the cards. Kinders learn each other’s name. Make sure to put the right card in the right bag. Learning patience, taking turns and handling frustrations. “When is it my turn?” heard in the background as they wait. Valentines Day party. The day arrives. Parents sign up to participate. Certain no, no’s. No balloons, limit the sweets, no elaborate goodie bags. Have fun with it, we say to the parents. If not sure, check in with us. And for the most part through the years, they have. Will leave it at that! Grade levels coordinate, decide how much to do, or not. End of the day, see happy faces at dismissal.

And that’s the best thing about Valentine’s Day at school. Playing field really equalized. No child left behind. No child is excluded. No child crying it’s not fair. Every child has a treat. Every child plays the games (Choosing what to do is up to them; some may need teacher guidance if it becomes too overwhelming to participate.), every child leaves with goodie bag treats and his/her her bag filled with VALENTINES!

Happy Valentine’s Day friends. I tweeted earlier that “It’s more then the chocolates and cards, it’s a day to take a deep breath and let someone know you care and they matter to you! Especially to the kids in your room, who may not have that, someone, yet.

       

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What We Want, Kids Need, Or They’ll Tell Us!

 
We don’t want kids to be complacent, nor compliant, that’s not the goal.
We don’t want them to challenge everything we say, to correct us and keep telling us we’re wrong. We don’t want kids exerting energy on issues of control at a cost to their learning and their social-emotional well being. We don’t want them to feel any kind of behavior will get them the attention they desire. We don’t want kids to feel empowered by a label either the smartest or negative, out of control, behavior. So what is it that we want??

I do believe this and I’ve seen so many educators write about this, discuss it amongst themselves and on Twitter chats. So much of what “we don’t want.” The difficult part is finding out what works for us and in our classrooms. We aren’t cookie cutter educators, we don’t have cookie cutter students, and our experiences are so different. Where do we go from here. But accountability looms large. Maybe, just maybe, knowing what doesn’t work for us can help us pay attention to the kids we have, to the program we have, to the curriculum we have. And maybe, just maybe, flexibility may be the answer. Flexible in our expectations, flexible in our thinking, flexible in our honest reflections and flexible in making changes that work for us. The us being our students, ourselves, our colleagues. our administrators and our parents. Then the non- negotiable such as indoor and outdoor play, recess, read alouds, classroom libraries, time to explore meaningful wonder and questions that often arise in those a-ha moments.

What we want, kids need! And the rest they’ll tell us if we listen. We want kids to know we are so glad to have them in our class. We want to see kids who can’t wait to come to school. We want to see kids have joy and laughter. We want kids who know they can try, in this safe environment. We want kids to be respectful to us and each other. We want kids who, when they can, share their feelings, their wants, their concerns, their worries and their excitement. We want kids to know it’s their classroom as they set up rules and guidelines that work for them. We want kids who, when they have an upsetting day, know we’re there to help them when they’re ready. (They may not know or be able to articulate their feeling and emotions, but we’re there by their side.) We want kids to know some days are just that, some days, and tomorrow starts a new day.

And if a hard days seems overwhelming, we just remember that tomorrow starts a new day for us as well. Looking how RULER and Responsive Classroom are shaping my thinking.

Play gives us so much information about the kids we teach.
   

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That Bubble

I’ve been thinking. I’ve been reflecting. I’ve been wondering. All about that “bubble.” The bubble we live in. The bubble that keeps us grounded. The bubble that protects us. That bubble that insulates us. That bubble that says, “Oh that’s not my business, that doesn’t effect me.” But at some point that bubble collides with all the bubble parts that make up who we are. Bubbles burst, our shield disintegrates and at times we are paralyzed with fear, uncertainty, frozen in our footsteps, not knowing where to go.

This came to mind with Kobe Bryant’s tragic helicopter accident last week, that killed everyone on board. Those lives known to family and friends (and strangers) continue to be mourned along with Kobe Bryant and his daughter’s. Knowing so little about Kobe’s life, other than he was a Laker basketball hero, who had a brilliant career, a family, a wonderful marriage that had ups and downs, but mostly that he had a loving wife and four daughters and he was so proud to be a #girldad.

It was my father’s  Yahrzeit end of January. Friends have shared on Facebook and Twitter pictures of parents’ birthdays, anniversaries, loving memories of their loved ones who have passed. And as friends we’re here to help them through these difficult times, in any way we can. How loss “bursts” our bubbles from our everyday life, our routines; our journey stops us in our tracks!

So why do I write this post? Here goes. We as adults know how to keep our bubbles from colliding, most of the time, and when they do, more often then not, we have resources to get us back on an even keel. But, do our students? Have we spent time to get to know them? And, if we don’t know much about them when their bubbles collide, how can we be there to support and help them? That’s it, that’s on my mind. I wonder, I really do wonder if we take the time to know our students? Or do we assume, do we jump to conclusions? Are we so stressed in making sure we cover the curriculum, a post I wrote Here, then the rest is lost? And for some students that’s what they need first!! The relationships that show we care about them. They matter.

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One Month In The Books

One week, two weeks, three weeks, four,

One month in the books. Two and a half to go.

Each day an understanding, each day a question, each day a wonder. Each day brings its own rewards. Each day brings its own challenges.

One month in the books.

Couldn’t do it alone. It takes a Village, so true. Welcomed by a community that’s still home.  John Denver said it best

One month in the books.

Reading, writing and arithmetic part of kinder’s day. But so much more. Time to play, to explore, to share, to learn, to grow. The kinders and me, I could shout it from the roof tops, the KINDERS AND ME. Each day a hug. Each day “I love you, Fay.” What joy I feel as kinders smile proudly, mischievously and say “Hi, Faige.” They learned to say my “real” name. Long story, but they know it. Names too important not to know and  share

I sit, I watch, I learn. Step in when the going gets rough and play turns to tears. Step in when “I can’t” (read this, write my story or numbers confuse) becomes the prevailing “cry.” Step in when stepping in is what is needed. Stand to the sidelines to observe, look, listen and learn.

Kinder teacher here. Back in my home. One month in the books. Two and a half to go.

Not counting down till my job is done. Looking forward to all still to be. Busy February, Parent Conferences come in March. I know the drill. Laugh out loud as I say, “Need to pace myself.” How about you?  What’s it like for you?

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Four Days, Not Five

How can four days, not five, seem so very long? Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Maybe resting, maybe shopping, maybe time with family. Maybe community service, maybe a parade. For some, maybe school. Tuesday, back at school, teachers and kids. Schedule set, we know what to do. Los Angeles, nice weather, can’t complain. Not the same across the country, I know, but grateful for here.
Tuesday Morning Assembly (usually Monday’s), then kinder routine begins. Look at schedule, look at plan book, seven day rotation, I’ll always need schedule tacked around  the room! New lesson for me, (book talk). It will be okay. Kinders are forgiving and I’ve become a risk taker. Time for mini lesson on book talk.

   

I’m a firm believer that success, building on a strength leads to GrowthMindset and willing to try more. A busy day with, Special Person (like star of the week), P.E., math and art. Then it’s Wednesday. Late start Wednesday, new to me. Teachers start with faculty/staff meeting (light breakfast available) at 7:50 am. Kids come at nine. Rotations, guided reading today. Meet with reading groups. Learning about them as kids and readers. That’s a good thing. Read aloud. Book on Lunar New Year. Kinders listen, attentive, ask questions. P.E., art and math. Thursday library and art for kids. Teachers prep time, talking time, getting to catch up on kids. Rotations, two other GR groups. Getting to know them as kinders and readers. That’s a good thing. Math and writing workshop. Working from our plan sheet to write Show and Tell Writing: From Labels to Pattern Books. Engaged writers.

   

   

Thursday, Families (15 student K to 6th grade) meet with faculty and staff once a month. Kids stay with the same group (by color name) until they graduate. Topics in gatherings vary. Sixth graders lead the sessions.  Giving kids voice and choice. Developing leadership skills.  After school, Day Of Service. Honoring MLK with projects (that students and parents can participate in) to serve our greater community of Los Angeles. Friday, yes it’s finally Friday! How lucky we are to have Matthew Cherry, author of Hair Love  come and visit us. Read his book and showed his beautiful video (up for Oscar for animated short, I understand).

What an amazing experience for our students (ECs through 3rd grade) and the teachers as well!! After lunch, quiet time, then a read aloud, Ruby’s Wish by Sharin Yim Bridges. P.E and play time as parents get treats ready for January birthday. Is it time to go home, yet.

           

           

Block building galore and finding lady bugs first. Kinders decided the ladybug would be our class mascot. Wonder where that will head to on Monday. And yes it’s the weekend now.

 

How can four days, not five, seem so long? A world of wonder in a day in kindergarten, can  seem like a week. A busy week, a productive week. Time for the weekend. How about you?

 

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Change Makers: Readers/Writers Workshop

Once again I’m exploring options for Reader/Writing Workshop. I told the kinders I’m going to know them as readers and writers, but first, I also want to know them as kids. What’s important to you I asked? What do you like, what do you do outside of school, what do you do with your family, what do you do with your friends? Where do you like to go, where would you want to go to explore? How is kindergarten, how do you feel about playtime, reading, writing and building? Do you like to read with your family, do you build with them? What would you tell someone about the math you do?

I usually work with all the kids in Writing Workshop (half groups of 15) and Roger works with them in Math. We have four groups each, rotating for Guided Reading. I decided to introduce our first rotation with the above questions (I initiated the conversation and it flowed from there). I told them that what I learned about them and their interests would help me find books that we could read together and then also write our very “own” books! I looked at writing workshop“Bends”  and integrated the idea with Guided Reading.

We continue to learn our sight words, and in Fundation for phonics and printing help us as readers and writers. We have been busy since September! And I joined the wonderful kinder team this January.

And I look through Twitter because I need guidance, I need to know that my instincts make sense and are valid; not that I want to go back to what once was in kindergarten, but to support where kinders are now. I read blogs, I join chats and I ask questions. I ask colleagues, I watch what they do. My kinders are at different places in their reading and writing lives. Some came in to the program reading and writing, doing math and loving everything about their school life. For many the focus in kinder continue to be peer relationships, the playground, sharing and taking turns, becoming problem solvers and always eager to participate at group times. We know kinders love to talk. We often say do you have a question, and really, we know they just want to tell us something. That something is of utmost importance to them. They want to make sense of their world! To understand how they can be “change makers” and what that means. And we learn a little more about them.

And what I learned, some aren’t there developmentally ready to master the many concepts introduced. Self regulation a biggie for them. Hurt feelings abound, problem solving developing, independence sometimes, bravado often. And yes, tears. And I look for other ways to engage them in the learning process that feels good, and reassures them they are readers and writers! We discuss strategies. We define what that means for us. And here is where I’ve decided to go for now. I’ll take a page out of Katie Keier @bluskyz  Writers Playshop she’s blogged and shared on Twitter. I’m going to intertwine this with “ loose parts”  and look at the Opal School and Story Workshop.

I am not discouraged. I am a rebel, I am an advocate. I will hold their hands and guide them when they need it and if they’re not sure we’ll figure it out together.

We’ve read books about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We shared why we’re celebrating his birthday this weekend, what he contributed to all Americans and to the world. Big concepts, big words, big dreams.


Change Makers Make A Difference

       

 

 

 

 

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