I have unshakable faith in children. They always show me the way. ♥

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

quick & dirty?

One of the things that I find so daunting about summer school is the brevity of it. The schedule is great -- the kids are here for a little under 3 1/2 hours and then I (supposedly) have the rest of the afternoon and evening. (Now, getting myself out of the building to do other things is another story altogether...)

What I lament, though, is the difference between this and the start of a regular school year. In September, we start the school year together slowly. We follow the Responsive Classroom approach and build our routines together -- we make mental images, we talk about what things will look like, what they will sound like, then we practice. We build our expectations and our community together, so that by the six week mark, we have our routines well set and can continue to get into some of the other work of first grade.

In Summer School, though, we can't do that. We have three weeks. Fifteen days. Forty-five hours.

I find it an interesting mental challenge to figure out how to create some of the necessary routines together, to choose some of the non-negotiables about how the classroom will be run, and figure out how to build that together -- but make it quick and dirty.

I'm not quite sure I have it down pat -- in fact, I'm quite sure I don't -- but this class sure does get excited about coming into the classroom and having Morning Meeting first thing every day. ♥

Monday, July 28, 2008

first day jitters...

Every summer, without fail, I start having dreams about the first day of school. In my normal, waking, sane mind, I'm slightly nervous, but always looking forward to meeting and getting to know a whole new group of young, interesting human beings that will end up holding my heart in a very real way.

My subconscious, however, has a whole other issue. It is afraid. Very afraid. It gives me dreams... it thinks back to my first year of teaching when I had a much, much harder time controlling the classroom and it turns that into dreams.

Usually I wake up and am full of relief that it was only a dream. But last night it tricked me! In the middle of a dream where I was saying things over and over again and children weren't listening at all, my dream self said in despair, "And this time it isn't even a dream!"

But it was.

I wonder why, though, that this is the most deep-seated fear that my subconscious holds as a teacher. It's never that I won't build a relationship with a student, or they won't engage with the curriculum, it's that I somehow won't have built the routines with the students and the classroom will be out of control.

I imagine it really does come down to what my first couple of years of teaching were like. It took me a good two years to start to feel like I had a better handle on classroom management, and several more still before I got to this:

teacher/administrator: Well, [name of student] is, um... well, they're a little bit challenging.
me: *smile* Oh, bring it on. I am going to adore them!

Interesting, though, that after twelve years of teaching, and three or four summer school classes, and I'm still full of butterflies on the first day.

In spite of my nerves, though, today was a brilliant first day at summer school. The kids are nervous, adorable, and eager. I can't wait to learn more about them... tomorrow we start Writing Workshop!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

books to love...

So, sometimes I read a book -- slowly or quickly, it doesn't matter which -- and am so enthralled by something about it that I want to gather it into my arms and hug it tightly. Books aren't inherently hugable... with their pointy corners and sometimes hard covers, but it can be done if you put your mind to it.

Over the weekend I read The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. It's a tale of a mouse, a princess, a rat, and a servant girl whose lives become irrevocably entertwined. There is soup, and light, and love, and thread. It is a quick read, beautifully written, and engrossing to the core.

My friends, I hugged this book. ♥

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

life in an icosahedron...

Very random:

The other night, my husband and I were watching a rerun of Mythbusters (which is just a fantastic show, in my opinion) and one of the show's stars, Adam, was constructing a shape that would need to be inflated, so he decided to make an icosahedron.

I grinned immediately and wished that my students were watching the show with me.

Every single one of my students would have known that an icosahedron is a 20 sided figure. We had a very cool foam icosahedron with numbers on each face that we used this year in various math games.

Now, I wonder if Jamie and Adam from Mythbusters might be interested in some of our first grade math games?