The thing I miss most about being a classroom teacher is that I no longer get to burst into song whenever I feel like it. In my classroom we sang all the time. We sang for transitions. We sang during morning meeting. We sang in the midst of long lessons so we could get our wiggles out. We sang when I was feeling ansy and I needed to get my wiggles out.
No, I am not a good singer. I am horrible, tone-deaf singer. The poor, poor student-teachers and co-teachers who were stuck with me were faced with pretending my singing was beautiful and had to go along with whatever tune I started.
But regardless of my own singing ability I found that singing and chanting was the best way to get our wiggles out while I stayed in control of the group. I could never full handle the five minute break where kids got to dance alone, or got to get water and have a few minutes to chat. I needed more control. (And maybe I needed to wiggle too) So instead we sang.
I still sing while I teach when I can, which means not only do my co-teachers suffer from my terrible off-tune ramblings, but students from different classes will chase me down in the hallway and just burst into song. I've been walking along with the principal chatting about something important when a first grade girl has snuck up behind me. "BANANAS UNITE!" she belted out, expecting me to join in with "PEEL THE BANANA" as the principal eyed me suspiciously. This happens more than you think.
Once when I asked a class, "Do you know why the principal hired me?" a boy shouted out, "to sing the flea, fly song".
So you can only imagine my excitement when I found this waiting on my doorstep yesterday.
It has 88 different songs, rhymes and games to sing/chant/play with your class. I was excited to learn new songs, but also thrilled that some of my old favorites were in there. Songs I'd learned years and years ago at Camp Alleghany For Girls in Lewisburg WVA that I've brought to the classroom and thought no one else had ever heard of.
I brought it in this morning and my partner-in-crime immediately flipped through it and found one to play as our activity in morning meeting. It even has little side bars beside each song/activity that tell what skill is practiced (focusing, listening, self-control) so that when the principal comes in and wonders why you're "playing" you can explain you are having a guided-lesson on self-control. (I've found that as long as you can make anything your doing sound like you put a lot of research behind it people will stop questioning you)
I've also been doing a lot of reading on using play to help children develop executive function and improve their working memory. As I was flipping through the games in the book I noticed that many of the games would allow children to practice using their working memory during play.
So, if my little kindergarten friend was correct, I now have a whole new list of songs and games to add to my job description.