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Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Celebration

April 19, 2012 2 comments

One year ago today I took my first flying trapeze class, and today, I took my first swing out of safety lines.

I’ve been working towards this milestone for months, passing conditioning requirements, trampoline skills requirements, and trapeze safety requirements.  I’ve stressed about getting to it, very nearly cried about not getting there fast enough, and worried I’d be too scared to do it once I was allowed.  But then today the instructors watched my first turns, signed off on all the required forms, I took the bar without safety lines and flew – and it felt great.  Not scary, not stressful, just right.  Everything my body’s learned how to do over the last year I did today without thinking or worrying, and it was exhilarating.

Doing trapeze for the last year has changed how my body looks and how I relate to it.  I’m incredibly strong now, and getting stronger, and I have become so much more aware of and in control of my body’s movements.  I’m still not graceful (or flexible), by any means, but I’ve become connected to my body in a way I never expected to be.

Earning out of lines status is a big milestone, to be sure, but I expect I’ll look back on this as just the beginning of my trapeze journey.  Each time I learn a new trick, twist my body in a new way, or figure out how to tense a muscle I’d never known I had I get hooked all over again, and I know there’s a whole lot left to learn.

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They don’t tell you about this in grad school

May 17, 2011 2 comments

After 8 straight days of having to call the office to request a custodian with a plunger, plus several discussions about our class’s over-use of toilet paper, today I had to set aside my science lesson on plants and talk about…poop.  Our class had a somber conversation about new rules for flushing to make sure that our toilet doesn’t break, then I used the instructional strategy of having students list details across their fingers to have them repeat and remember the new rules.  They may not have taught us how to handle broken toilets in grad school, but it’s good to know the pedagogical strategies I learned work across topics!

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.

Tangrams

March 9, 2011 Leave a comment

My class is working with shapes and spatial thinking right now in math.  Since I LOVE tangrams, I’ve put a lot of emphasis on that in my instruction.  While not all of the kids are enjoying them, a handful have really latched onto it.  They’ve mastered the dozen advanced designs our team prepared, so today I brought in my old set of tangrams and deck of tangram design cards.  I introduced it during indoor recess, starting with three boys who were really interested, but building up to six kids after others saw that we were having a lot of fun.  I explained that the goal is to be the first person to make the design on each card and (here I may have stretched the truth a bit) that I was a champion at tangrams in middle school.  (There was no official tournament, but I did play a lot against my friends and I usually won.)

Of course since 1) I’ve had a lot more practice and 2) I’m an adult, I finished almost every figure first.  We had some good conversations though about the strategies I used and what was really tricky to figure out, even for me.  And I encouraged the kids to use my completed design as a template for making it with their pieces, since practicing putting figures together – even if you’re looking at the answer – is one of the best ways to get better an tangrams.  One of the boys is definitely starting to see the patterns in the pieces.  He finished the large arrow at the same time as me and exclaimed “that’s so easy!”  When I asked him what made it easy he said “it’s just a big triangle like this and a square.  It’s easy!”

I think I had more fun today than any other indoor recess – and the kids enjoyed it too!  I sent two of the boys home with their own set of paper tangrams and new figures to try out; several others asked if we could play this again during recess or academic choice.  I’m really happy to be sharing an activity I like so much with my students.

[Aside: I finished one figure particularly quickly and left it on the table while I went to help a student with the computer.  Coming back I heard one child ask “how is she so fast?!”  Another answered, very matter of fact, “She WAS a champion at it.”]

Theatre-going

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment

There are two basic situations in which I buy theatre or dance tickets: when I’m traveling or when I’m drinking.  Because I generally travel by myself and I don’t search theatre websites when I’m drinking with friends, I’ve gone to dozens of shows as an adult, but almost all of them alone.  I rarely think much of it unless someone else brings it up.  (E.g., “Oh, you’re seeing something at the Kennedy Center?  Who with?”)  I’ve always figured that performances aren’t really good times to talk, so company isn’t necessary.

Every now and then, though, I do wish I had someone along with me, if only to help me make sense of what I’ve seen.  Tonight, for instance, I saw the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company’s performance of Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray, which is about (yet not about) Abraham Lincoln and is almost impossible for me to describe.  I would have had absolutely no idea what was going on if I hadn’t read the program notes, but I came away deeply impressed by the show; it was one of the most inventive productions I’ve ever seen.  The set was simple yet incredibly flexible and consistently fascinating.  The mixture of poetry, instrumental music, spirituals, and historical texts overlaying the dance gave the piece enormous emotional range.  I just wish I knew what it all meant…

Singing update

October 7, 2010 Leave a comment
Categories: Teaching Tags: ,

Finding my place

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

I still don’t feel in control in my lesson planning.  Transitioning from a fully independent, 4-week unit approach to a team-planned week-at-a-time approach has been very hard on me.  In math, especially, I feel out of step with my team and with the specialists.  I want to start out much slower, emphasizing number sense, problem solving, and understanding.  The team values these goals too, but our planning tends to bypass hard conversations in favor of daily activity planning.  To me, the end result feels random – a collection of things to do rather than a careful building of mathematical understanding.

Oddly, I started out writing this post because I was feeling better about our math planning.  In today’s meeting I brought some ideas to the table, pushed for us to focus on foundational skills, and got at least one co-worker on board with my thinking.  At this point, I’d say I’m still feeling a little lost and out of control, but I also feel like I can find ways to carve out space for my own math curriculum within my classroom.  If I want to use ten-frames and I can find the time, no one’s going to try to stop me.  If I’m being really ambitious, I think my next step would be to plan out my idea of how the next several weeks should run, propose these ideas in our meetings, and implement as many of them as I have time for.  It’s a little exhausting to think about doing that much independent planning on top of the school day and my freelance work, but I think it would make me feel more confident and competent.  Teaching math was one of the highlights of my student teaching experience and I’d like to get back the feeling that I can really teach kids to think and to have fun with math.

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