Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Here's an update on the kindergarten couple who is "engaged"! One morning recently, I went to check on the adorable blond boy, and he bopped to the door to greet me decked out in dress-up clothes, or at least partially so. To be precise, he wore a red and white checked long-sleeved shirt with the tail hanging out, a black corduroy suit vest, a gold clip-on tie (slightly askew), khaki shorts, and orange tennis shoes. "Wedding clothes?" I asked. "Yeah, we decided to wear them today," he replied. "Who decided?" I wondered. He explained that he and his sweetheart had decided to dress for the engagement festivities again, and yes, she had on a bright pink, white, and black girly-girl long dress. As had happened before, when I went back to their classroom to teach guidance an hour and a half later, the groom was dressed in a plain gray t-shirt and shorts! This morning, I said to the little boy, "Way to go, Baby Doll!" Thinking he might not like this handle, I explained, " I know you're not a baby. That's just what I call people I care about. I even call my husband Baby, and you know HE'S not a real baby!" Nodding with understanding, my kindergarten friend said, "I know. My girlfriend and I call each other names, too." Curious, I asked, "What do you call her?" "CoCo," he said. "And what does she call you?" "Willy Billy," he answered. I only have one more day to check on this favorite child of mine. No telling what will develop in this affair of the heart during the summer, but I'll certainly try to find out come mid-August!
Monday, July 7, 2014
Here's a funny story that happened in a kindergarten guidance class last week. For a couple of months now, I've been teaching the kids about calming down strong feelings so that they can think about the best way to handle their problems. We've talked about exercise, rest, playing or doing a calming activity such as reading or drawing, talking to someone about our feelings, etc. While these are all good ideas at certain times, they're not things that we can ALWAYS do due to time and place issues. For example, we can't go run and play or take a bubble bath or take a nap in the middle of class, in the car, or in the grocery store. Therefore, I've taught them 5 ways to calm down that can be done anytime and anywhere. We call these ideas Breathe, Count, Click, Boss, and "Push, Pull, Dangle". The children understand these methods because we've spent lots of time learning about and practicing them. In case you're wondering, the "Push, Pull, Dangle" is a way to use physical energy when you're not able to move around. You just push down hard on the tops of your legs for a count of 10, then pull up on the backs of your legs for 10, and then flop your arms and relax. Well last Wednesday I had to teach a double class of kindergarten students. Since it was the last full week of school and we had about 43 children in the room, I was having a bit of trouble getting them to settle down so I could start teaching. Most of the children were focusing, but as is often the case, a couple were acting silly. Two boys in different areas of the room were scooting up to their friends, intentionally trying to crowd them, get their attention, and giggle about it. Feeling exasperated and seeing the opportunity for a teachable moment, I said, "Okay, I have a strong feeling of frustration. I need to take a belly breath." I intertwined my hands into a locked position, put them on my belly button, and proceeded to take a deep breath. This is one of the calming techniques the children understand. just as I drew my first belly breath, one of my favorite little girls, a freckle-faced spitfire whom I've tried to help with behavioral concerns this year, blurted out in a loud voice, "Push Pull Dangle!" Needless to say, her timing was perfect, and my belly breathing quickly turned into belly laughter! As we all know, laughter can be another way to calm down strong feelings, and after her advice, the whole class had a little giggle-fest and began to focus. Thank you, KK!
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Today I received the greatest compliment of my whole career, or at least It had to have been in the top 5! It happened in a second grade guidance class. At our school, which has over 1000 children, our second graders are our "seniors". Since we only have kindergarten through second grade, we have to say goodbye as students prepare to enter third grade. This can be very hard to do, especially for staff members like me who teach the entire school every year. I have 3 years to fall in love with the children, and then, poof, they're gone! Well we had had a lively lesson of figuring out the reasons for bad behaviors depicted in both true-life stories and fiction. A super-shy little girl whom I'd tried to help this year had read a funny story called Underpants Dance to the class, and her voice had been loud enough for everyone to hear! Lots of laughter had accompanied her reading of the book, and I think she felt good about being the belle of the ball, so to speak. At the end of class, I let the children dance to Happy, by Pharrell Williams, which thrilled them to pieces. I figured the last week of school was the perfect time for that song! As you can see, we'd had a fun time together. Now for the compliment: As I packed up my materials and the class lined up for lunch, children gathered 'round me for final goodbye hugs and sweet words. All of a sudden, I saw one of the boys crying near the end of the line and heard the teacher asking, from the front of the line, what was wrong. The stocky little boy's face was red and all screwed up as if he'd been hurt, and nobody seemed to know why. The teacher asked the sad child to come see him, and the child said that he was crying because it was the last guidance class. I reached him quickly, gave him a tight squeeze, and told him that I'd never had anyone make me feel so loved. I'm sure that
the little boy recovered quickly, but this will stand out to me as a bright spot when I wonder if I'm making a difference in the lives of children. What an honor to receive on the last Friday of the school year!
Saturday, July 5, 2014
As part of Teacher Appreciation Week at our school, many children brought flowers to their teachers on Monday. Since I hang out in the hallways to do rainbow charts with children every morning, I get to see lots of interesting sights. Well on Monday, I noticed that there was a mom with a large vase of tall flowers who was sitting outside a kindergarten classroom. At first I didn't pay much attention to her, but as I moved on up the hallway closer to where she was stationed, I realized what she was doing. Watching each child who entered the room, she ascertained who had flowers for the teacher and who didn't. Catching those who were empty-handed, she let them choose a long-stemmed flower from her vase. Then she helped these children think of something kind to say to their teacher when they presented her with their poseys. I noticed that several of the children who received help from this mother were children with limited English. It occurred to me that maybe their parents hadn't been able to read the information sent home about Teacher Appreciation Week and therefore hadn't been able to send their children to school with flowers. Surely these little ones would have felt left out of the festivities, as most kindergarten children have very sweet hearts and love to show affection. Going up to the flower lady, I introduced myself and thanked her for what she was doing. She said that she and another mom who had a child in this particular class decided it would be helpful to buy a bunch of extra blooms so that each and every child would have the opportunity to show their love to the teacher. I got chill bumps because of this very thoughtful and generous gesture. What kind hearts these ladies have!
Friday, July 4, 2014
This is teacher appreciation week, and I was shocked to pieces when a shy second grade girl walked up to me in the hall this morning and presented me with a Care Cat puppet. This is sort of like my mascot for guidance classes, and I have to order the puppet from a company in Miami. Several years have passed since I got a new one, and this week I actually had to retire my old puppet and go to classes without him. You see, old age takes its toll on well-loved puppets, and Care Cat's whiskers had been completely pulled off one side of his face by curious kindergarten hands. Also, Care Cat had a hole in the lining of his head, so little by little, small fingers were pulling out the cotton stuffing. Poor baby deserves a happy retirement in my toy box! Anyway, I guess you can understand why I was so thrilled. I actually squealed and carried on and hugged the daylights out of the sweet little girl who gave me a new Care Cat! Where she found him I do not know, but her timing was perfect, and I'll think of her generosity every single school day for a long time to come!
Thursday, July 3, 2014
I have a wise and kind-hearted little boy to brag on! During our first visit together this week, I did a getting-to-know-you activity with an adorable freckle-faced kindergartner. We talked about his feelings regarding school, friends, and family, and during the latter part of the conversation, he mentioned that a favorite great-uncle of his had died sometime during this school year. "I got in trouble the night he died," he reminisced. "I was hollering and got up on my train table and jumped around." Thinking he was upset about his uncle's death, I questioned the reason for his behavior. The child said, "No, I was just trying to have fun, and then my brother got off the phone and cried and said my uncle didn't make it. I can't believe I acted so bad the night he died. I loved him very much." I was a bit shocked but very impressed that this little blue-eyed guy had put so much afterthought into the way he comported himself that night. What a good strong conscience he must have, as well as the willingness to admit and learn from his mistakes. I know I'll love working with this little boy and am sorry that I'll have to wait until next school year to get to know him better. He will be one of the reasons I look forward to returning to school at summer's end!