Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summer, Summer, Summer time

And we are off.....extended school year has started and by the time I actually post this; its three quarters done!  Summer school is such a change a pace for me; not only am I teaching preschool (yes, I have every certification under the sun) which is different from my normal fourth graders, but I feel it's the break I needed to a recharge for my upcoming fourth graders.

Having the little guys and girls during this short time had restored my passion for teaching and even creating.  They have a thirst for learning and LOVE school.  We had laughs and fun all while learning academically and socially.  

Here is one of the activities we did incorporating counting, identifying numbers and utilizing fine motor skills.   Counting and Identifying numerals to 10 Task Cards  were laminated and either circled with dry erase markers or clothespins.  Of course, we had summer themed clip art.  This can be a fun activity to do with your little kiddos too at home!  

It wouldn't also be as fun without some Pirate activities too!  This is the perfect activity for kids trying to practice fine motor skills and writing.  My preschoolers are really working hard on writing their letters and holding a writing utensil with a tripod grasp.  Additionally, I would like to add that I love writing in highlighter for the students to trace over too.  I found this to be a successful strategy to transition the students to start writing their letters independently.  You can find this resource here:    Tracing Upper and Lowercase Letters

Throughout ESY, my assistants and I were constantly teaching social skills and appropriate behavior.  Unfortunately, with the rigor of school today; many kids do not know how to play and interact well with one another anymore like they once did in Kindergarten.  They don't get to play and learn to share as much as they used to and now it is impacting the present and past kids, teachers, and their families.  Who can relate?  It's a real eye opener when you have to teach your fourth graders how to share and respect one another with actual curriculum.  This was partly why last school year was one of my more challenging years.  

Of course, summer is a time for teachers to recharge and even though I taught Extended School Year, I am recharged to have fun again.  I'm over the deadlines... I am over tests....I just want my kids to have fun while learning!  I'm just ready to start fresh!  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

One of those years...... #truth

This past school year, was just one of those years.  A year with far too many challenges yet little support.  Who can relate? Probably more of you than not.  I am actually annoyed with myself for letting one of these years, be the one that takes me away from doing things I love, such as creating and blogging.  No, it wasn't my personal life.  Actually, quite the was challenges in my professional one.  

As a special education teacher, I've always had challenges to deal with but this year was an exceptional one.  Not all challenges were in special education; and not all challenges are created equal.  Often times, just a special mixture of students is enough for the proverbial "perfect storm."  The mix of personalities and issues proved to be difficult.  I am extremely thankful I have a co-teacher, because I don't know if I could have survived without her.  LOL!    And yet I was also thankful that it wasn't just our class; it was the entire unit.  Every day was a new challenge, yet everyday we showed up, put on our "big girl panties" and did what we had to do or deal with on a particular day.  There was no other choice!  I couldn't even count the number of "hats" we wore this school year.  Often times, we found ourselves wearing 10 "hats" at a time without even switching.  As I write this now, all I visualize are the illustrations of Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina.  That was us...the peddlers wearing a dozen hats at a time, which felt like total monkey business.  We've all been there one time or another, right?!  I know...I'm speaking to the choir?! :) 

Some days, I felt defeated and exhausted.  Other times, I was feeling guilt for my students that were the ideal students.  (But what really is an ideal student?! Ideal is subjective.)  Anyways, I hope they forgive me for just not being on my game this year.  Shame on me for not.  We tried it all; new behavior plans, flexible seating.  You name it, we tried it!  At times, I even second guessed my career choice.  As much as I love what I do, this profession takes a lot out of you and this year I felt like I went a full ten rounds of a boxing match almost daily.  Some days you feel like you get no support from administration and it's a losing battle.  I often felt that I gave stiffer consequences than when I would direct a student to the office.   Much of the time, it felt like a losing battle.  

Mornings were better than afternoons.  We had to teach social skills ALL day long.  Students knew how to handle certain situations and ways of dealing with their frustrations but they never utilized it when needed.  Something always happened at lunch or recess and we were just putting out fires left and right.  If only it were enough water to douse the drama that ensued for the entire year.  

I'd often find myself saying that I was happy that I don't have my own children because I know I couldn't go home and deal with another living thing that looked at me the wrong way. I couldn't stomach another insult or fire to put out, and I know if I wasn't on my teacher game, I'd certainly not be on my mommy game either.  Although, many of my teacher/parent friends disagree; I just didn't want to imagine it for myself.  

What I realized was that the challenges that many of my students were dealing with on a daily basis were never things that I ever had to go through at their age, and tended to be things they brought with them to school.  It saddens me that I had students that had to wake themselves up in the mornings; take care of a younger sibling; not be able to go out and play after school; feel the need for pure competition; deal with a parent who lived across the country; not knowing a parent; a child who needed to lie to feel better about him/herself; the need to be perfect; a child who could not control their body, let alone sit and focus on a lesson; not having clean clothes to wear on a daily basis; having 9 other siblings to deal with and fight or the attention of their parent; being homeless; kids exposed to sex, and so much more.  Some kids are not parented; some have never learned how to play or share; some kids need instant gratification; some were never corrected; some were never taught respect for others or even themselves.  So many extremes; yet will it really ever change?!  Who really knows.... There will always be situations that are out of our control!  I wish I could say that there won't be other years like this one, but I know the reality of that statement.  

One of the best things about our profession, is an entirely new start each September.  A fresh start with a different group of students, a different set of parents, sometimes a different set of staff and/or a different set of administration.  New hopes for a great year, new goals for my students and myself, and new challenges that lie ahead.  

The weight of this past school year has since been lifted, and relaxation has set in for now. Here's to getting back to me!  Here's to our recharge!   Here's to teachers!!