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Archive for April, 2011

Ready for 2nd grade

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

My class came back from spring break looking about 6 inches taller and acting like they were totally done with 1st grade.  They’ve been a lot of fun this week, and often surprisingly independent, but sometimes, wow, they’re clearly ready to move on.

First, the good things:

  • They’re researching animals and writing “All About” books about their chosen animal.  During writing time they are almost 100% engaged and on task, and they’re getting great information out of books that are often far above their reading levels.  And because they’re so into the project, they’re soaking up everything I have to tell them about non-fiction text features (e.g., headings, index, table of contents, captions…).
  • They are reading with remarkable independence and doing it happily and for longer periods of time.
  • There are more and more periods of time when I realize that everyone is productively engaged in work and no one needs my help.
Next, the “wow, really?” things:
  • While they’ve always been a silly group, this week if one of them makes a funny noise, it’s 99.9% certain that at least 6 others will make that same funny noise.  And when I tell those 6 to stop, at least another 4 will make the same noise.  And then all of them will start giggling.
  • They are enjoying each other’s company so much that they often have no interest in me.  At all. Even when I’ve put them directly in front of me and am saying their names in full-on teacher voice.
  • Today in math we experienced the two problems above so often that we got through 5 minutes of my 1.25 hour  plans.  After standing up to stretch, then to sing a silly song, then sending them back to their tables to calm down, I assigned them boy-girl-boy-girl seats on the carpet.  And about 2 minutes after that, I threw in the towel and took them outside to see how many jumping jacks, push ups, marching steps, etc. they could do in one minute.
End of day conversation with a student:
     Me: Was today a good day or a silly day for our class?
     Student: A silly day!
     Me: Was today a silly day or the silliest day in all of first grade?
     Student: The silliest day ever!
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow they show me more of the great parts of them getting older and fewer of the silly parts!

Flying

April 23, 2011 Leave a comment

This week I took my first trapeze classes.  My first, on Tuesday morning, was one of the most fun, invigorating, exciting, awesome things I’ve ever done.  My second, this morning, mostly felt frustrating.  I’ve spent a lot of the day trying to figure out the difference.

Some of it was the composition of the class.  Tuesday’s class had a mixture of beginning and intermediate flyers, almost all with very outgoing personalities.  I knew everyone’s name before class even began and we took a group picture afterwards.  It felt warm, inclusive, and incredibly supportive.  Today’s class was perfectly fine, but everyone but me came with someone else, and most of them stuck primarily with their friends, so it was far less social.  I’m not sure whether we actually got fewer turns today than on Tuesday, but it definitely felt like we did.  I certainly felt like I spent a lot more time sitting today than I did in the first class.  I think that’s in part because I was less likely to be chatting with other people, and in part because having mostly newish flyers (and two teachers-in-training) meant the entire class moved a little more slowly.  And it was cold today, so I was freezing in between turns.

Also, because they were training two new teachers, the instructors were constantly rotating around.  It felt like someone new was calling commands every time I flew, and while they are all pretty similar, their slight stylistic differences threw off my timing as I processed what they were saying.

Furthermore, I came in vibrating with tension and adrenaline, although I’m not sure why.  I think, in fact, that I was more nervous before my first flight today than in my first class.  And it showed.  My first flight today was worse than anything I did in my first class, and although I knew it was because I was tense, it threw off my confidence for the rest of class.  I didn’t really calm down until one of the more perceptive instructors was up on the board with me.  Instead of having me get ready to take off, she looked me and said, “okay, breathe.  Again.  Again.  Better?”  It was better, and I really appreciated that she could see what I needed.

Finally, I think I’m feeling frustrated overall with the class because the last flight – in which I tried my new trick and was caught (i.e., I swung out to an instructor on the second trapeze and he caught me mid-air) – felt great and looked great, but the instructors all said I went too soon and didn’t wait for their cue.  They were really nice about it, but also adamant that I wait for their call next time, since that’s the only way to stay safe as you progress to harder tricks.  The thing is, I thought I did wait for their call, and when I watch the video, it looks to me like I did, but since I trust they know this stuff better than I do, I must not have.  I feel frustrated that I can’t even identify how to do better next time.  I suppose if trapeze is something I’m going to do a lot I’ll need to get better at shaking off some frustrating flights and just focus on figuring it out next time.  I think I’ll bring the video to my next class and ask an instructor to show me what I’m missing.  And until then, I’ll focus on how good some of the flights felt and on how much I did right, instead of the few things I got wrong.

Injustice knows no language barrier

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

This afternoon I told the class I would pick someone who was sitting quietly to read a book to us.  After picking a child, I turned to see H standing in front of me, outraged.

“Why you no pick me? I sit down, I quiet!” she exclaimed.  “No, you’re standing up and yelling.”  Clearly exasperated, she explained, “I sit down, I quiet. You no pick me, I stand up, I talking.”

We’ve come a long way from September’s four English phrases (yes, no, sorry, and oh boy!).

So big and yet so little

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

My students are becoming so big.  They’ve started being such independent thinkers, writers, readers, math students.  BUT…they are still SO little.

An exchange today:

Student [whining]: “Miss R, I can’t find my book ANYwhere.”
Me: “Is that it on your table?  Right in front of you?”
Student: “No I…Oh! Yeah, that’s it.”

Another conversation, held laying down on the floor at the end of the day, both of us heads in our hands, exhausted:

Me: “So, what didn’t work today?”
Student: “I didn’t listen to anything.”
Me: “Yep.  So what do you think we could do tomorrow to make things work better?”
Student: “Maybe I could listen?”
Me: “That sounds like a good start.”

Although they’re still so needy, so loud, and so seven-years-old, they’re also so much fun.  They’ve started using our calculators as cell phones during indoor recess, having hysterical one-sided phone conversations as they walk distractedly around the classroom.  I handed out some extra spiral notebooks and they’re carrying them around taking notes, measuring things, writing math facts, making lists, and excitedly sharing what they’ve done with anyone who will listen.

And most of all, they’re doing what all kids their age should do – they’re spending an enormous amount of time trying to figure out the world, even if it’s not the piece of the world I’m trying to get them to focus on at that particular moment.  Just this week they’ve figured out an easy way to add 9, made a connection between scales in our classroom and produce scales in the grocery store, and discovered that if they exchange phone numbers, they can talk to each other when they’re not in school (a truly earth-shaking revelation).  It’s a busy, exciting time in their lives, and sometimes I feel like the best thing I can do for them is to just to give them great tools and then get out of their way.

Keeping busy, finding new interests

April 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I recently broke up with someone I really liked and decided that instead of moping I needed to fill up my time learning new things and meeting new people.  Since we broke up I’ve gone ziplining, become the co-chair of my college’s regional alumni chapter, gone to a trivia night, taken an all-day bus winery tour with 40 other people, learned Mah Jongg with a  new group of friends, and started taking trampoline classes at the local trapeze school.

All this activity has been exhausting to this introvert, but it’s also been a lot of fun.  I’ve gotten out to new parts of the city, talked to lots of new people, and tried things I never thought I would do.  Plus, with school calming down and freelance work picking back up, I have a little bit more time and a little bit more money to devote to new things.  I’m beginning to think that instead of planning an ambitious getaway to another country this summer, I might take that same budget and really dive into this area instead.  It feels good to be more connected to the people and places around me instead of running off to explore another region’s attractions.

Overheard in the classroom

April 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Because of a special event today the kids came to class about 15 minutes early, giving them a lot more time to chat at their tables during morning work.  A few of the conversational snippets I overheard during that time…

Boy describing his (probably fictional) plans for the long weekend: “I’m going to go back to North Carolina this weekend.  And maybe Short Carolina, too.”

Girl talking to her whole table (in a tone of patient explanation): “You have to have socks because if you don’t have socks you can see your feet. I am wearing socks, I’m NOT wearing feet.”

And finally, an exchange with one of my 6-year-old girls:

Girl: “Miss R, you look SO pretty today!”
Me: “Thank you!”
Girl: “April Fools!”

As my friend said, burned by a six-year-old.  Ouch.

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