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One needs alternative activities to keep him busy, another one needs attention, another needs a simple hug, another needs praise, another one a simple high five for a job well-done, another needs to know it is okay to make mistakes, another needs a hand tying their shoelaces, yet another needs help opening their milk, peeling their orange, another one wants to be listened to, wants to tell you a joke, wants a hug, wants you to rub their “booboo,” wants you to watch them hang from the monkey bars all by themself, another needs a lesson in winning/losing, one constantly needs a very sharp pencil to write with, yet another needs a sweater to keep warm (and I don’t have the heat on!), one needs to learn when it is appropriate to use your aggressiveness, another one is constantly thirsty, or needs a tissue, one wants to be read to, another wants to read all the time…and what do I give the child who has seen death of a cousin from a hanging? How do I know what he needs?  How can I help him want to be in school?   Know that he is loved?  That his teacher and classmates care?

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For the first time today, I was able to single-handedly meet with all three of my reading groups and keep the other children independently working and on task.  And, the Assistant Principal walked in while I was meeting with one reading group.

My Frail Flower (a.k.a Hypochondriac who stated “her knees were sensitive today”) came up to me, gave me a waist high hug and said “I learn from you, Mrs. Woodbury, a lot!”  My heart melted at such a sweet moment.  Determined to make every moment count and teachable, if that is a word, I said, “Thank you so much for the compliment.  Do you know what a compliment is?”  My Frail Flower responded, “No.”  Classic!  I explained that it is when you say something nice about someone else.  She gave me a toothless, weak in the knees smile and I melted again…sigh.

So, a few posts ago I mentioned that my students visited a prestigious private school in Chicago and I remember saying to myself “wow, I’m sure every single one of these private school kids know what year they will graduate from college.  Note to self:  Make sure I tell my students!”  Well, I did tell them but Mrs. Woodbury is not the best at math and gave them the wrong year!!!!! OMG!  Talk about a first year teacher moment.  After sharing this with a friend (or my husband-can’t remember), I realized I did the Math wrong.  The kids have approximately 11 years schooling left before entering graduate and will graduate from a four-year institution in the year 2024! I hope I’m right this time!

Report card pick-up day/parent-conference day was last Wednesday.  I had a chance to meet a parent of each of my children.  Surprisingly, most of them asked what “Chit Chat Circle Time” was.   I explained that at the end of the day, we spend 10 minutes in a circle on the rug chatting about things that happened to us that day.  What we liked, what we did not like.  I take this time to praise children who demonstrated good character/citizenship during the day.  I take the time to review homework for the day, any expectations for a field trip or an assembly that might be happening the next day, review a concept such as “Read to Self” or “Ways to Read a Book,” pass out forms/worksheets/anything that is going home that day, you name it we do it during Chit Chat Circle Time.  Come to find out from the parents, their kid doesn’t seem to remember anything else they did at school except Chit Chat Circle Time!  Makes me laugh when I think about it.  After all, I spend so much time trying to make Math, Science, Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Spelling interesting and fun with games, cheers, etc. and, yet all they can seem to remember and the highlight of their day is Chat Chat Time!  Go figure!  Goes to show us all, kids just want to be heard:)  And they just want stickers!  Lots of stickers!  Who knew?!

Drives Me Batty!

This is a picture of our 1st grade board in the hall decorated last month with a Halloween theme.  The bats were made by the kids using their own hands.  Some look more like tarantulas than spiders, but  you get the idea.  Anyway, the reason for this post is not to talk about the board but it’s a good segway into what I really want to talk about which is the child in the class that drives me BATTY!!!

He is constantly interrupting and gets hung up on things very easily.  He needs to know what is going to happen next and next and next and next.  With a morning meeting, a first, then, and next approach in my mini-lesson instruction, visual signals between him and me that redirect him without interrupting instruction for the whole class, I’m hoping this will improve.

Part of me feels extremely guilty and that I am doing this child and others a disservice by not challenging them enough.  He is obviously bored and wild for alternative activity.  Yet, I am learning along with him in a big way and am still finding ways to differentiate instruction for him as well as the child who is repeating first grade and keeps on saying “I read that already” and the few children who state “I’m done” 5 seconds after I give them a classwork assignment!!!

S.W.O.T.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunites, Threats…Business 101 and for me, the best way to provide a snapshot to parents of how their child is performing in 1st grade at the end of the first quarter.  Except the last T won’t be called “threat” but “Teacher/Parent next steps.”  The template is so simple ( a box divided into four even squares, each one labeled with an S, W, O, T) and helps me not feel so overwhelmed with all the information I want to capture on each student.  It helps me KISS – Keep It Simple Sally! Who knows maybe I’ll end up writing creative briefs on each of my kids!!! ha

A Walrus D*&ck!

The things you get to see as a new teacher!  This was taken during the behind-the-scenes tour of the Chicago Field Museum’s Mammal Collection.  What a great way to get the attention of teenagers…not your boring museum field trip anymore!

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