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First Year, Sixth Week: Teaching Edition

Tabitha Helms

This week was fairly uneventful (thank goodness): My problem child did get sent to the office again, but was not suspended this time.

Another one of my kids got sent to the office for fighting on the playground. It wasn't under my watch though.

Today we celebrated a student birthday and had very cute pumpkin cookies. I prefer the cookie treats much more to the cupcake ones. You should see how much frosting ends up on their faces and fingers when we have cupcakes. It's a little too stressful to end my day.

I ran out of time for assessments today, which was unfortunate. I'll have to finish them next week, which is a shorter week. Hopefully I'll have enough spare minutes. Assessing is probably one of my most difficult jobs as a kindergarten teacher. To have 20 minutes of uninterrupted time to work one-on-one with each kid--listening to them read, hearing Bible verse recitations, watching them put story pictures in order, etc.--is the ideal that never seems to happen. I can usually knock a lot out during center time, but I was teaching kids to tie their shoes at center time this week, so it took away my prep time. It was an important lesson though. I was so proud to see my teaching actually worked! :)

Today I was teaching a math pattern lesson. The concept was a little confusing because it was using a curved line above a row of x's or circles to make a pattern. So it skipped a circle and then it didn't skip a circle, it skipped a circle, and then it didn't skip a circle. We've only worked with patterns that have different shapes or colors, so it's a lot easier for them to see what the pattern is. About eight of my students understood it after we did it on the board together. The rest didn't get it. I sent the eight to their tables to do their worksheet on it, and told the rest to crowd around. I got out red shape manipulatives and some black yarn that a parent had cut that morning for a craft we're doing next week. I lined up the shapes in a row and used the yarn as the curved lines. I retaught it, and they got it! It's always exciting to me when I have to think on my feet like that and come up with a new creative way to teach something, and my alternative does the trick! The only problem was that I didn't have anything else for my students to work on who understood it the first time. So they were just sitting around talking and being bored while I checked each student's paper and did some one-on-one reteaching. That's another reason I didn't finish assessments this week. There were two occasions that I had to reteach something this week because they just weren't getting it, and it took so much extra time.

I met with the disgruntled parent from last week. She was not in fact, very disgruntled. She just happened to be talking to the other kindergarten teacher and said since we work together, she should mention the tattletale monster to me if she thought it was something I needed to change--as her mentoree. She was able to pinpoint what she wasn't sure about with the monster--if there should be a reward for students not telling. She thought it might send the wrong message. I could understand that. I just give an incentive for everything in kind of have to! But I rethought it, took away the marbles connected with it, and decided to add marbles to the class jar for each student that got over 10 marbles each week.

A couple students were out sick this week. We had a nice class discussion about coughing/sneezing into your elbow, and why that's better than coughing/sneezing in your hand. We talked about how germs travel and how they can get others sick. Hopefully, they're taking it to heart; I did see a lot of elbow coughers this week, so that's good. I'm not looking forward to the winter season; I pray I don't catch every little cold! My bronchitis can relapse so quickly it seems.

I've been losing my voice pretty much every day at math time. Too much talking over everybody. It makes me kind of grumpy and irritable. Not fun. I had a teaching nightmare last night that I was literally screaming over everyone in class to be heard over their chatter, and they still weren't listening! I went into the other classroom and cried because I was so frustrated. Thankfully that didn't happen today.

We studied Noah's Ark this week, and had a pretty lengthy Bible verse. But my kids impressed me; usually I say it with them to help them recite it, but I said I was going to see how well they remembered it on their own and I wasn't going to help. They totally did the whole thing by themselves! I was so proud. :)

I started teaching an after-school ASL club with the second grade teacher this week. We'll have 6 meetings. It was pretty fun, but I don't really know what I'm supposed to be bringing to the table. I help show them the signs, but the other teacher is doing pretty much all the talking. That's totally fine with me, I'd rather not do a lot with it, but she said she wants it to be co-teaching. She doesn't want to make me feel like I'm not a primary teacher in it too. We worked through the alphabet, fingerspelled names, signed greetings, and signed common words. Then we started learning a song together. That was my favorite. It's so fun to sign to music! We might do it in chapel.

I missed a devotion on Tuesday because I knew we had a staff meeting that afternoon. I knew that we don't have devotions because of our staff meeting, but failed to realize that we don't do devotions the following day. It made sense to me how I thought it was because we would already be seeing each other that day to talk about current information. But it makes sense the other way too because meeting in the afternoon takes away our prep time, so we get to have that time the following morning instead. And then, at the end of the day, I got back to my classroom and got right to work. There's always a million things to do after school if I want to be out of there by 5pm. I was making copies in the office when the computer teacher comes in and says, "You know there's a staff meeting right?" Shoot! I was 10 minutes late. Thankfully, the principal was that late too, so we walked in together. But I was totally unprepared--didn't have a pen or anything. That was unfortunate because we had to write down spirit days and our choice for an Open House theme.

We have a Thanksgiving Festival before school lets out for Thanksgiving Break. Each class does a booth, so I had to do some research of something simple to do. I was up for the cake walk, but the thought of getting all my parents to bring in something, and to package everything properly, and to draw the walking mat, cut up cards to draw to choose a winner, etc. was a little overwhelming to me. I remembered the Fall Festival we had at TCCS when I was a kid. There was a big board called a lollipop tree. It was a tree painted on a piece of wood with holes drilled into it. In each hole was a tootsie pop. You picked one and if the bottom of the stick was colored a certain color then you got a prize accordingly. I did some research on those and decided on that one. I thought of painting a tree with fall colored leaves on it, but decided on a turkey instead. My vision is that my class will put painted hand prints on the board for the turkey's feathers. The kids would love that, and even though it's a big job, I think they'd like to be a part of it like that. I'm going to start painting it this weekend, so that I can gradually get it done when I have some extra moments or extra helpers.

That was pretty much it for my week. It's a three day weekend, and I have a lot to do! - find a Columbus Day craft - sew a couple gifts for people and take in my staff shirt that I'm swimming in - grade papers and enter it in my grading system - write to the parents who haven't yet turned in their field trip driver waivers - practice guitar (I'm teaching myself to play!) - sing at church this weekend - teach a voice lesson - have lunch in Dana Point - SLEEP IN! - manually enter contacts into my new phone (don't you love when you're offered back-up assistant on your phone and it doesn't work?)