1/25/11

It's time to steer the boat in another direction. Hang on.


Most of the days I spend in kindergarten are filled with laughter, wonder, curiosity, snacks, singing, dancing, playing, reading, writing, a great sense of satisfaction and then more laughter.


Today was not one of those days.


I’ve been teaching for 22 years, and I’ve learned many things. One of them is that by the time I have the kids trained to do incredible things, it’s the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL. Then, I’m forced to begin all over again. It’s like I’m starring in Groundhog’s Day without the big lucrative salary.


I had a feeling that it might be a difficult day today when Frank was brought into the classroom (at 8:40) by a first grade teacher whose room is on the OTHER SIDE OF THE SCHOOL. She found him, surprisingly, doing handstands down the hallway. The OTHER hallway.


“Frank, were you doing handstands in the hallway?”


“Yep. Well, NO. Okay. Yep.” And then he proceeded to tell a long and involved story about something I don’t even remember because he talks ALL DAY LONG and sometimes I have to tune him out.

And suffice to say that was the best part of the day.


I spent the better part of the day re-directing three other friends as they broke most (okay, ALL) of our classroom rules. I found myself at my breaking point. And to be honest, I have a pretty high tolerance.


As the bell rang and the children flew out of school, I sat at my table with my head in my hands. Ms. Perky came to check on me, and as I recounted the events of the day I will not deny that a few tears were shed. And not by her.


It felt good to go through the events and the difficulties, I think because it helped me pinpoint who, what and where. And then I started planning.


I have learned another important thing in this journey of mine. I’ve learned that when the children are acting out; when they are breaking rules and interfering in their own learning and that of others, something must be done.

I’ve learned that if I can’t change or fix what the child is doing, then I must change what I am doing.

I have to change. I have to change what I am doing, so that they can be successful.


And so tonight I plan. Tonight I think, I brainstorm, I search for new activities and new ways to help these children, and I remind myself that tomorrow is a new day. I remind myself that they all have incredible gifts, and I remember the many things I love about them.



And guess what? What happened today and what will happen tomorrow and the days that follow? THAT is where I am earning my keep. That is what you all are paying me for.



I accept the challenge. (Just pass me an Advil and a cocktail first, would ya????)


52 comments:

Anne said...

Apparently my day on Monday took a little time to travel to you... My "Frank" got kicked out of music. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get kicked out of music... when you are 6...? Well, at my school, it is pretty hard. I hope you day is better tomorrow. (I spent last night making my new plan too... it went into action and I had some success.)

BTW: A stiff drink will help you 'think outside of the box.'

Captain Dumbass said...

I'd like to give you a great big hug right now, because my little monkey is one of those kids that requires a lot of new plans and I have nothing but respect and admiration for his K teacher and his learning assistant and everything they do for him. I'm not a religious person, but bless you just the same.

slouchy said...

If it's any consolation, things were not running so smoothly elsewhere...

xoxo

Lady Estrogen said...

All the power to you, sista!
I did 4 years of high school teaching and I started to loose my hair... and sanity.

adventuresinestrogen.blogspot.com

pinklea said...

From one teacher to another: yes. Change. Change and plan again. That is what we do. You've nailed it as solidly as I would sometimes like to nail a few of my little darlings to the wall ...

bernthis said...

Phoebe's entire class had to write an apology letter to their P.E. teacher. It was so sweet and well written I could have cried but then I remembered why she was writing in in the first place. I wish there more of you in the schools out there.

Melissa E. said...

Every single person who thinks teachers are overpaid should have to spend one week teaching in a kindergarten classroom. The amount of work you guys do is amazing. Kindergarten teachers work miracles. You turn prehistoric cave-people into reasonable human beings over the course of one school year.

I'm a K-5 ELL teacher and I spend time each day in kindergarten classrooms. I think this is one of the hardest ages to work with.

The fact that you constantly reexamine your practice and revamp it when things aren't working proves the kind of educator you are. Best of luck getting those kids to listen.

noexcuses said...

If you worked close by, I would have Mimosas (virgins) delivered to you every day!

We have a program at the middle school called "You Got Caught." When a teacher or other staff member sees a student doing something good they get written up, but it's a positive "write up" and they get a big fat sticker that says "I Got Caught." It has worked with even our most challenging (behavior-wise)students!

It's great that you are so open to trying new methods. You will find one that works, and I bet it will be long before the last day of school!

Pastor Sharon said...

The cocktail went out in the mail today. It's in a blue martini glass. You'll see.

And by the way the comments look, the kids are going crazy all over the place.

Are we about to have a full moon?

It would make sense because the people at the retirement community I work at all went flying over the coo coo's nest this evening at supper.

Scope said...

Just give the angels cheap, plastic slide whistles as they leave. Or silly string.

It's all about sharing, isn't it?

Rima said...

Those kids? Are so lucky to have you. You rock.

Anne said...

Scope... that's not funny. Whistles (or those seasonal straws that kids turn into whistles) can bring me to my knees faster than ANYTHING. I could tolerate fingernails on the chalkboard (if we still had them) better than whistling. It is my greatest fear to be placed with an avid whistler in my classroom. Our Ms. Perky passed out straws this week... I forgave her, but not until a very stern talking to had occurred.

Brian Miller said...

some great wisdom sprinkled in there VM...i suggest doing hand stands and breaking a few rules...um...

Cheryl D. said...

I wonder how many times my daughter drove her teacher to tears. Oh wait, I think never. She's just driven me to cry! LOL

Joanie said...

Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Not that you're a dog or anything. In fact, you're quite pretty!

Okay, I'm gonna shut up and sit over here.

Lori said...

One of the things I like most about reading your posts is that it reminds me to be really really thankful for my little man's Kindergarden teacher and to pray every day for her. Her, you, my daughter and sister whom both are teachers and every other teacher.

I think it's really neat that you stop, take a look and see what you need to do...and plan changes instead of staying stuck...isn't that what we all need to do every now and then?

Sending you hugs, love, a good drink and postive thoughts for those changes you have in mind! XX

Dawn said...

Wow... I'm writing the SAME plan tonight, except for third graders.

Here's to our new plans!

yogurt said...

No parallels to parenting here, are there? No of course not. We parents aren't salaried.

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討債 said...

Thank you, that was extremely valuable.

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Sara J. Henry said...

Hello, I have no idea how you do the wonderful (and difficult) job you do, but I'm going to point you to some advice from my friend Spuds, who is rearing six kids - this is what he asked himself after a horrible debacle involving a McDonald's play area:

-“What went wrong?”
-“What could have been done to prevent it?”


Hang in there, you. I have huge faith in you.

LiBBy said...

I dont see why it's such a big deal for the government to pass legislation to put sedatives in the drinking warer at schools.
You have my blessings.

LiBBy

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Thank god for teachers like you!

Fiftiesmom said...

You could have been describing the last few days in my first grade classroom except for the handstands, thank goodness! Add in a couple of not-so-pleasant emails from parents to make it even better. Thanks for the reminder that maybe it's time to rethink what I'm doing! (Although the vanilla vodka and diet coke each evening has been helpful!)

Miss Night said...

Amen, sister friend. As a fellow K teacher, you have my sympathies. I have a pretty mellow, easy, group of kiddos this year, but once had a class of first graders who sent me back to the drawing board every couple of days. As you say, THAT is the real work of teaching. Can't wait to hear how today goes. Kisses and cocktails from Canada.

Shannon said...

Some people have one or two co-workers who could throw a wrench into their day. You have...what...22? 28 of them? Yeah...if everyone's still alive at the end of the day, I'd consider that a success. And if there's no use of duct tape for discipline measures? Even better! lol

middleagedcrazywoman said...

I've had days like that and they're awful but what I really like about this post was that instead of moaning on about how bad the day was you are trying to be proactive about how to make it better. I love that attitude.

I fight to keep that attitude in my world... I admire someone who does a better job of it. You talked out the day with someone who'd understand then got started on a way to change it... I so admire that.

Thanks.

M

Sue said...

I LOVE your posts and what a wonderful gift you are to our little ones! Such a great attitude, especially after all your years in teaching. I remember some of my kids teachers when my kids were young. You could just tell by walking in the door that they were burned, done. Props to you to continue to give to these little ones!!

Take care, Sue

The Only Girl said...

Thank God for wonderful and caring teachers like you! You deserve so much more than you get.

Jeff D'Antonio said...

Cheers to you, and thanks for being one of the good ones.

Homschlr4ever said...

Both my daughters are working to become kindergarten or first grade teachers, among other things. I think I'll have them read this post. My only comfort for you is I teach high schoolers "Science". I don't think I've ever come home not laughing at the absurdity of a teenager not to mention the sheer stupidity sometimes.
Thank you for being a teacher.

Missy said...

Miss? You rock. Seriously, only the BEST teachers realize when things aren't working for the majority of the class, the teacher might need to make some changes. For you to realize that is awesome, but to actually have the energy to do it with the other stress you have in your life? Is. Absolutely. Frikkin. Amazing.

Catch the Kids said...

Your way of thinking tells me you are an AWESOME teacher. Thanks for the giggle.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate teachers so much more now that I've had children. My daughter informed me (on an occasion when I had again lost all patience) that I could never be a teacher. She is right. God bless you!

The Empress said...

Missy Lady: the world needs more yous.
Too many blamers, not so may "inside lookers."

I never had a teacher like you, you know that???

ReadyOrNot said...

I love it when other teachers march up to me with one of my students. I tell them, "he may be mine, but I didn't birth him!" I always try to remember that these kids look forward to coming to school and they are giving me their very best. Keep up the great teaching!
Amy
http://readyornot-newyear.blogspot.com/

Sodermoto said...

Seriously, You deserve a metal for dealing with them everyday! Good luck and I will be sending you much strength for the rest of the week!

Kimberly said...

This post just proves you're in the right profession....we keep working until we find the way to make it work.

Hugs and Martinis to you...

Joanna Jenkins said...

I wish there were more teachers like you.
xo jj

Trish@Show and Tell said...

I honestly don't know how you, and all other teachers, do it. I know I couldn't.

I'm just grateful that there ARE people like you, doing what you do so well.

x

Travis Erwin said...

Sorry to hear you had a crummy one. Hope it got better the next day.

If you get a chance swing by my blog. I'd love to hear a teachers take on my current post.

Mel said...

As a teacher myself, I HEAR YOU LOUD AND CLEAR! It's funny because all my teacher friends seem to be experiencing this right now. I know personally that January and February always kicks me in the butt. We just have to keep plodding along and finding ways to keep them moving forward. I love your attitude though and I can tell by all your posts that I would be happy to have my kids in your class. Thank you for all you do and the difference you are making your students lives!

Amy said...

I just wanna know. . did anyone get a picture of the handstands? I bet that was hilarious!!!
Sorry it was a rough day. . . it's something in the air! The hospital was terrible with behaviors this week too!

Christy said...

Oh man, I've had my share of these days lately too. They freaking stink. I hope tomorrow is better, and I'm sending you good thoughts all the time, my friend. Big hug!

Jules said...

I had that day today too. OH LORDY! Except I gave myself a Time Out. I can do that in the 5th grade.

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I was chatting with a teacher the other day that spent his first year teaching kindergarten. He said that his buddies used to rib him about it. "What did you do, teach them the alphabet?"

He said he told them, "The don't KNOW the alphabet."

He made me laugh and it is true that teaching the littlest kids is so tough. They don't even know how to learn yet. They spend most of their time telling unintelligible stories, drawing goofy pictures and spinning in circles.

I know. My daughter is in kindergarten. Her teacher is a saint.

Malisa said...

And, that, my friend, is what makes you a fabulous teacher! You understand that you must change what you are doing to get different results. The majority of educators go their entire careers without learning or acknowledging that fact! Applause, applause, applause!

Malisa