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Posts Tagged ‘elementary’

When possible, most schools I go to try to keep the classrooms together based on grade.  Sometimes, this can’t happen.   One school needed to create a new first grade class two months into the year and while the other two classes were on the first floor, the new class was in the basement.  The teacher of the third grade class I was in had previously been one of three sixth grade teachers but after the grade size required only two classes she was switched to a third grade class.  To be nice, they allowed her to stay in her room.  Sweet deal except the other third graders are on the second floor and her class is surrounded by fifth and sixth graders.

I felt bad for my little fishies today; yes, they are not the smallest in the school but fodder they can still be.  I was surprised when I opened the door to go to a special to find sixth graders milling outside of our classroom while they waited to switch classes.  I didn’t want my kids to be bothered by the older students so I just waited.

Then, at the end of the day, my class was heading down the stairs and one of the sixth grade classes came out.  My class is directly across from the stairs so we headed straight down but she came from the side.  The teacher waited but I still had a few students coming out of the classroom when the teacher exclaimed she couldn’t wait when she cut through my line.  I understand we all want to get home at the end of the day but for five more students you couldn’t wait?  So while I was trying to make sure my children got out of the class safely the rest of the children hit a barrage of traffic when they reached the second floor.

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Parents at School

Today, I had an assignment as the librarian.  Easy peasy for me, well at least I wouldn’t be there wondering what in the world to do.  I spent several years working in my town library in high school and college.  A big bonus was I spent a large amount of that time in the children’s section.   Therefore, the day wasn’t too bad.  I had no classes in the morning so I helped out in a kindergarten class.  It was interesting because the school has parents come in to volunteer.  One parent came into the library to see if any books needed to be put away and there was another parent that spent a few hours making copies and doing errands for the kindergarten teacher.    I have to do more research to see if there is a mandatory requirement or if these people just do it out of the kindness of their heart.   My cousin attends a private school where parents are required to do a certain amount of hours and have a rotating schedule.  I can see how if it were mandatory, how working parents may find it harder to contribute but I am sure there are things that can be worked out and night events they can handle.   Either way, I think it is a great way to get parents more involved in the school.

Have you seen this before?  What do you think?

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Many times when I am in a classroom, kids say something or reference a show and I think, “Well, back when I was young…” I don’t have that many years under my belt but these events occur and I feel old.  Well, today a kind of eerie and moving event occurred.  I was in for a support teacher and one of the student’s mothers came in to read a story: The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein. It tells the story of Philippe Petit, who on August 7, 1974, walked a wire strung between the Twin Towers.    Before she began, the mother discussed the Twin Towers and how most of the children in the class were born the year of 9/11 so they would have no recollection of the towers  ever being up or their fall.  When she got to the end and read, “Now the towers are gone,” I  was a bit moved.

It is always surreal for me to discuss this event with students because I can remember exactly where I was when the planes crashed but these students can’t imagine.  It’s like when people talk about the assassination of JFK or Pearl Harbor.  The thing is these students just keep getting younger and farther from the event.  I know I shouldn’t be surprised because the school I student taught at didn’t even have a moment of silence…and they were in school on the day.  The school I am in now at least had a moment of silence but it’s still so far from them.   I wonder what it will be like to talk about in another twenty years?

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

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It seems like in school we are always testing our children.  It begins before they  even officially begin school.  Youngsters in our area are given the  Bracken School Readiness Assessment (BSRA) to test their skills in various areas such as colors, letters, numbers/counting, sizes, comparisons, and shapes.  This test is supposed to be administered when the children are being registered and parents are supposed to be present so they can fill out relevant information that we use as test questions later.

My job today was to help administer the test to all the kids who had not taken the test…about a third of the grade -_-;   This wasn’t too bad after I was told what answers counted.  I had no clue whether a squishy oval counted as copying a circle or when you say, “hands above your head,” if it counted if the hands were touching the child’s head.  That wording can be so tricky!  I tried to make it like a game.  I told them we were playing Simon Says when I asked them to perform tasks such as putting their hands in their pockets and showing me their left foot.   I also got to test motor skills such as catching, hopping, skipping, stair climbing, writing, cutting, and copying.  So I had them do the “work” part first which wasn’t too bad because they had been dieing to use the scissors all week.  We then got to run around playing catch, jumping, and skipping.  If only all tests were so easy!

There were a few complications.   First, there were several sections involving the identification of  shapes, colors, and numbers in a book that took a fair amount of time.  I was ready to help by taking students to another section to complete their test but we only had one book.  Guess I couldn’t work on that.  I then decided to work on the section where students told me about themselves.  To do this I needed the child’s full name,  address, birthday, etc to verify they were giving the correct answers.  As I stated, this is usually filled in by the parents who are present when the test is normally administered.  However, when the test is delayed we don’t have the parents around to help and we have to go on a hunt.  If the child brought back his or her emergency information packet we can look on that.  Unfortunately, some students do not and then I have to turn to the office to get the information.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to get it because the secretary in the office looked at me like I was crazy for asking for the information.  Maybe tomorrow will be a better day to try; it still is the first week of school with craziness to be straightened out. Anyway, testing continues tomorrow.

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Each day, the kindergartners get snack time about an hour before lunch.  This is a time to take a break.  The funny thing is, the parents have been  really good about giving their kids lunch with a snack.  However, the kids are not so good at taking their snack out of their lunch.    We quickly realized this when we walked around the first day to check what they were eating and saw them consuming their sandwiches and several of the snacks in their bag.  I had one student whine how he wanted to eat his sandwich now and wouldn’t listen when I tried to explain he wouldn’t have lunch later.   Even after walking around each day, it seems the trend has continued.

Well, what is a “snack”?  How big or small can it be?I have one girl who brings in a sandwich.  The first time I thought she was eating her lunch but it turns out she brings two.  Another student brings in a tiny bag of fruitchews.   Some students ate through half the lunch they brought on the first day before we caught them.  Others, do not eat anything from their lunch but have a drink.

To try to remedy the confusion we have sent a note home to parents asking them to put the item in a separate bag or write “snack” on it.    We’ll see how this works in the coming weeks.

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Twenty-six kids do not belong in one classroom.  Twenty-six kindergartners REALLY do not belong in one classroom.  In an ideal world all classes would be smaller so teachers could devote more attention to individual students but I know it doesn’t happen.  But these youngsters really do need more individual attention.  There is so much they do not know.   Just teaching them the basics like how to line up and signals to not talk was a challenge.

The town I am in does not pre-register their children; parents were signing children up as late as yesterday and there were still some children that showed up that were not on any class rosters.  This can be good to let parents have more time to decide if their child is ready for school and get enrolled.  However, it leads to problems such as unlisted children, a shortage of supplies, and crowded classrooms.    They are thinking of splitting the sections and creating a third class but then they need to worry about where they would put them.  They require a room that has a bathroom and the only room available is being used as a lunch room. Another option is to have aids in each of the rooms.  I was helping in one of the classrooms and it was still a bit overwhelming with so many students.  Granted, it was the first day of school but the kids only have a small attention span.  They are bored after the first fifteen kids telling their name or a fun fact, getting through the last ten is challenging.

I like the new class part.  I think the concessions that would have to be made, such as having students stay in their class for lunch, would be small compared to the benefits that would be gained by having the smaller class.  Of course the budget needs to be taken into consideration and just about everywhere it’s tight.   What do you think would be best?

We’ll see what happens.  I get to move up to first graders tomorrow.

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Ok, so I was expecting to have the first few weeks of school free.  No teacher in his or her right mind would miss the first few days of school.  I was going to check out the King Tut exhibit in NYC, go check out some grad school information, crack down on my portfolio (it’s almost perfect).    Well,  to my surprise I got a call last night from the lady in one of the towns who is responsible for sub calls.  She asked me what my availability was and if I had gotten a position.  At first I was confused, I am always available  (It seems people are picky about what days they can work, go figure).  She then explained one of the elementary schools was looking for a permanent sub  and that they wanted to see a few candidates.  I would work for two weeks and show up every day, whether someone was out or not.  WOOHOO!!!  Of course I jumped at the opportunity.  I had been in this school before and I didn’t have any problems.  Well, one hallway’s floor is a bit too squeaky for my liking, but I think I will live.   Elementary is not my first choice of age groups to work with but they are cute and sometimes actually listen to what you are saying…or at least try to.   Not sure what I will do, probably sort all those papers that seem never-ending in the first week.  So my summer officially ends today.  I start school bright and early tomorrow (thankfully not as bright and early as the same town’s high school teehee).   Once again I must establish a sleep schedule, pack lunches, and deal with morning commuters.  Can’t wait!

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