This week was off to such a rough start but it's been smoothing out quite nicely. For one, after working two 4-day weeks in a row, my alarm wasn't set for Monday of this week. Whoops. I completely overslept and had so much prep leftover that I hadn't had a chance to finish over the weekend. I managed to get everything ready before I had to greet my kids at 8:20 when the bell rang so phew, dodged a mullet there. Just another manic Monday.
I revamped my behavior system again this week in hopes of seeing better results. I rearranged my seating chart so that all of my major behavior challenges were grouped in the first row, my semi-behavior challenges in the second, and so on and so forth with my little snow angels in the fourth row. At first I had my doubts. Putting all of my behavior challenges in such close proximity to each other... Whatever, I was willing to try anything and everything to get my really naughty kids to just listen. I threw my pride and any ounce of dignity I had left out the window weeks ago when I was handing goldfish out for literally every little thing my kids did right. What's shame again?
Believe it or not, this week has been much better in terms of classroom behavior overall. I give a lot of credit to the flu that's been going around, haha. At one point this week I had 8 of my 22 students absent from being sick - whoa. For the record, that's not a flu, that's a plague.
As inconvenient as it is to sit outside with my naughty kids during recess and lunch, I'm glad that they are getting the message loud and clear - no work during work time means no fun during fun time. No one said teaching kindergartners to be respectful and follow directions would be easy, and as much as I keep my eyes on the speck of light at the end of this long dark tunnel, it has become rather crushingly defeating.
So how does a first year teacher cope with such a seemingly daunting first year assignment? By reveling in the very thing that got me so passionate about teaching in the first place - learning. Amidst my classroom management issues I have found some very special moments with my kinders that have been a saving grace. I was looking over some journal writing this week and was so happy and proud to see how far my students have come. Here are some highlights from our winter unit, which I am really enjoying teaching, thus far.
Here's our interactive story about our Gingerbread Party last December.
This is what my calendar looks like. It is such a great way to weave in various math topics all in one quick little mini-lesson. Students count the number of days up to the present date, try to guess what will be next in the pattern, kinesthetically represent the pattern (both pictures and label AAB), and echo talk "Today is _day January __, 2013".
I also introduced the Venn Diagram to students this month.We talked about what it means to compare and contrast. I just told them they were fancy words for 'same' and 'different'. We read The Mitten by Jan Brett, a kindergarten classic, and compared/contrasted the characters in the story to those in The Mitten by Alvin Tresselt.
For our painting center, students painted snowmen and wrote a sentence about their picture. I love kindergarten art from the wacky to the abstract to the literal. Good stuff.
Finally, here are some writing samples from my students' journals. For kids who have never seen or played in snow, they sure have some stellar imagination! :)
I'd like to close tonight's lengthy post with one last thought. So as some of you may or may not know, I am currently teaching at the school where I completed my first student teaching assignment and just one month ago, my master teacher announced that she would be retiring this year. Her last day is tomorrow and I was asked to deliver a very short speech (I was told I had one minute. I wonder if they'll start playing a 'get off the stage' song over my speech as an escort comes to take me away from the mic if I go over a couple seconds a la the Academy Awards) at a surprise ceremony, under the guise of a fire drill, honoring her amazing accomplishments as a kindergarten teacher in front of the whole school. I speak in front of little children everyday for a living, yet the idea of delivering a speech celebrating my mentor's retirement in front of her, my colleagues, and my principal has me pretty nervous. I feel especially limited by the short amount of time I've been given to prepare and execute. Since I'm already writing for this blog, I figured I'd just draft my speech right here, right now.
"Mrs. M., when I was assigned to your classroom in K-1 last year I would've never imagined that 1 year later I'd be delivering a speech to you celebrating your retirement, but here we are. I think it goes without saying that you are a living legend. Not only at this school, but in this district. Everybody knows who Mrs. M. is and all of the incredible things that happen in your classroom. Teachers often ask, "How does she do it?", to which I have come up with no better answer than simply the word - magic. You will truly be missed by all of the students, families, and staff alike that you have had an impact on. Thank you so much for your commitment and dedication to this wonderful profession. You've been an inspiration to so many including myself, as a budding new teacher in her first real year of teaching. As bittersweet as I'm sure it feels, enjoy this new chapter in your life. You deserve it!"
Gosh, it is so tricky to properly balance sap and commemoration! I hope my speech comes off with sincerity and is well received tomorrow. It's kind of neat though isn't it? As I begin my venture as a new teacher, so ends the legacy of one master teacher. To quote some pop culture here, one day you're in. The next day you're out.
As always, thanks for reading! :)