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First Year, Twenty Seventh Week: Teaching Edition

Tabitha Helms

Spring Fever has officially set in. The kids are crazy as ever. Monday was an especially hard day. My throat was feeling scratchy and uncomfortable by the end of it. I prayed that it was just from yelling over their noise all day instead of a sign that I was getting sick. Thankfully, it was gone by the next day. My big throw-off moment of the day on Tuesday was when I took my kids up to Music class at the end of the day and the room was dark. No one was in there. I wracked my brain to try and think if someone had told me we weren't having music this week. I came up empty. I had my kids sit along the wall and called down to the office. They didn't know anything either and called the music teacher for me. I tried to entertain my kids while we were waiting by asking them to tell me a music word they had learned and what it meant. While discussing the definitions of legato and crescendo, the phone rang. I answered and they told me there had been some miscommunication and music wasn't happening today. So we went back to class and I put them in front of an Easter movie while I had the parent helper do handprints on a thank you poster that we were making for Albertsons for our field trip.

We didn't have centers this week because it was a short week due to an in-service day on Friday. I had some other activities planned instead. On Tuesday we made salvation bracelets. We talked about each color as we put it on. My favorite moment was when I was trying to get them to guess what the yellow bead was for. I reminded them that we so far had our sin being forgiven because of Jesus' blood on the cross. I asked where might be a place that is yellow or gold that we could go to because of these things happening? One little boy raised his hand, "Yellow Deli!" The two parents in the room busted up laughing; I managed to keep it at a big smile as I told him, "No." No one guessed heaven, even though we did a whole week of talking about heaven in November. One of the kids told me heaven wasn't gold. I corrected them with a verse from the Bible. I was very pleased they seemed to remember all the colors and meanings fairly well. I had them tell their neighbor what each thing meant when they were done, and asked if they thought they'd be able to go home and tell their family what each bead meant too. They thought they could.

On Wednesday, I woke up at 5:47am because God wanted to talk to me. The past two weeks God has been waking me up at random times to do that. I have finally submitted to it, and instead of trying to fall back asleep again, I've just resolved to, "Okay God, what do you want to say to me." I ended up starting my morning with over an hour of God-time. It was a blessing to start my morning with Him, and it really changed my attitude about the day. I noticed when I talked to my kids throughout the day, I was more patient to hear their little stories that they wanted to tell me about their dogs and their soccer games and their injuries. I noticed myself smiling at them more and encouraging them more. And at the end of the day, when I heard other teachers talking about how crazy their kids were and how much this spring fever is destroying any ability to learn, I was thinking, "My kids were actually great today." It was all in my attitude, and making the most of my day, and starting it with the Lord.

On Thursday I realized I had some work to do on my report cards still. I was all caught up on entering in grades for each week. I'm really organized about that. I always get thrown off  by report cards versus progress reports. Progress reports are a cinch; it's just a percentage of each grade. Since I stay on top of all my grading each week, I don't really have to do anything for those. But then when it's report card time I always forget about extra things I have to add in. I wanted to check and make sure I had seatwork, homework, a test, and a quiz grade in for each category. I remembered during rest time that I needed to add in behavior grades. I forgot about that! I did it fairly quickly, but it took pretty much all of rest time--30 minutes. Behavior grades take a while because I have to play a little movie in my head of each student and think about each behavioral area when they're in class: respects and obeys the teacher, attentive in class, respects peers, participates in class, helpful to others, respects rights of others, and general behavior. While doing that, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten about comments. That's the part that takes me the longest. I forgot about it last time too and had to hand write them in after reports were printed. As I started working on those I suddenly remembered that I also had forgotten about sub-grades! Sub-grades are the bane of my existence as a teacher. You think teaching kindergarten is easy? Let me give you a peak at what I grade in each subject area besides classwork and homework and tests.


- recites weekly Bible verse

- retells weekly Bible lesson

- comprehension of Bible story


- counts to 50

- counts a group of objects accurately up to 31

- recognizes names and whole numbers to 50

- understands more/less than

- recognizes and describes patterns

- extends and creates patterns

- identifies names and shapes

- counts by 5s and 10s

- adds to 5 using manipulatives

- identifies coins by name and value

- knows time to hour


- identifies uppercase letters

- identifies lowercase letters

- comprehension

- know concepts about print

- recognizes sight words

- hears rhyming words

- creates rhyming words

- identifies letters of the alphabet

- recognizes letter sounds

- phonics/word attack skills

Self-directed Learning:

- follows school/classroom rules

- assumes responsibility for own actions

- show respect

- solves own problems

- works cooperatively

- uses time productively

- works independently


- writes name

- creates text from own ideas

- rereads own writing

- print letters in correct form

- punctuation and grammar

Pretty ridiculous huh? Think that times eighteen. Time consuming just doesn't seem like the appropriate phrase. It goes so far beyond that. The tricky thing is, there's not really a way to grade all of these things. I don't physically have time to do one-on-one testing with each of these students to determine if these things are being met. I have a general idea. It's just way too much to be writing notes on all the time. I love teaching, but I was definitely not prepared for the grading aspect of it.

My kids learned John 3:16 this week. I had them learn the song "God so Loved" by Jaci Velasquez to help them remember such a long verse. I also taught them the sign language for it. Watching them perform it for me was the most precious, heart-filling moment from this week. I love love love teaching at private school! I love teaching them Bible verses and showing them how to pray and talking about the Bible and God. They soak it up and have the most priceless, childlike faith you have ever seen. It challenges me and blesses me all at once. We did a 'listening to God' activity this week where they spent time on their own, quietly before God to see if he had to tell them something. When I did my own listening during this time, God said, "Tell the children that I love them." Awesome. I love doing that. They love hearing that. Such a simple, yet powerful message.

Friday was a tough day. It was in-service for the teachers. We spent all day in committee meetings for accreditation. I was the official "minute keeper" for both of my committees--the first one on professional development and the second one on data analysis and collection. It was exhausting and time consuming and overwhelming. I had nothing really to contribute other than some talk about student projects and how I don't feel like it's my place to say how many professional development seminars everyone is supposed to go to each year and how much education we're all supposed to continue over the years. Everyone is different and has different goals. I'm getting my clear credential next year. Not everyone has one of those. I have no desire to get a masters degree, but some people do and have. It made for a really long day. After my evening plans were done, I went straight to bed and was asleep within 15 minutes. I slept for 12 hours! It's funny how draining meetings are when all you're doing is sitting around all day. Yet, I have more energy after running around with my 5 and 6 year olds all day. Ridiculous.