Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hidden treasures

In getting ready to go back to school (two more days... I can't handle this!) I've been going through my wardrobe to figure out what fits and what doesn't. It appears that every time I put on a pair of pants I pull out not a $20 like one hopes but a piece of a game or center from last year. Two sided counters, a candy land person, two zingo tiles, a toy bone (?), and some counting bears. Some pieces have clearly been laundered but managed to stay in the pockets throughout the winter. I'm sure if I got creative I could develop my own math game with all the random pieces.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Comfort

My daycare provider asked me to bring Baby L in everyday two weeks before I would officially leave her. The first day I sat and watched the program. The second day she sent me on a walk around the block, leaving Baby L behind. The third day she sent me twice around the block. The fourth day she sent me to Starbucks. She's very slowly getting me prepared to leave her, and slowly getting Baby L use to her daycare.
When we went on Monday I could watch Baby L visibly relax there. She was giggly and happy in everyone's arms. A huge wave of relief flooded over me- I might actually be able to leave her after all. (Still wishing I could just take her to work with me...)

The daycare provider has been so adamant about the importance of a slow transition. By the time I drop Baby L off the first day she wants her extremely comfortable with the other children, the care givers and the environment. She wants to make sure I am comfortable because that will send a message to my baby.
Obviously this is above and beyond what we can do in school for our kinders, but I think some of the principals behind it are the same.
We can make sure the parents feel comfortable with us because that their children will pick up on any anxieties they have.
We can try to introduce the environment to children with their parents beside them to help them feel safe. If their initial experience is safe and warm with their parent they are more likely to associate positive feelings and trust with the new environment. And obviously, when they feel safe and secure they are more likely to be open for learning.
It's hard to fully prepare our kinders for school, especially those who have never been away from their parents for this long. There is obviously a lot out of our hands- the parents have to bring them to open house and orientation for us to get a chance to try to make them comfortable. But we have control of how we set up those experienced, the patience we have with parents, and how we interact to send a message of security in the new environment.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Two more weeks...

Two weeks from today I will be back at work. I can't believe my leave is almost up.
I've been going in once a week to get to know the kids and watch their routines. It's odd to be a stranger in my own classroom, observing as an outsider. Although the kids are all excited when we talk about me coming back I don't think they really understand what a significant change it will be. I don't think they realize that the teacher they have gotten to know over the last 12 weeks will be gone and I will take her place. For children with special needs who thrive on routines and structure this is going to be especially hard.
I won't respond to their behaviors the way their substitute did, simply because we are different people. I have a feeling we are going to have a period of testing and restlessness as we all get to know each other.
There is so much I've missed in these first 12 weeks. Developments in their behaviors, their diagnosis, the relationships with their parents and the school, their use of equipment, what works and what doesn't. I feel like I am going to have a steep learning curve of where each child is, right when I am not on my a game myself from lack of sleep and the emotional adjustment of leaving my little one.
This whole 12 week maternity leave thing is for the birds! No wonder women make less than men in the work place! When we come back from leave we are not the with-it workers we once were with our sleepless nights. I use to be able to throw myself into my job, now I'm going to have to make some serious readjustments in my expectations of myself.
I'm excited to go back and work with the kids. I miss them like crazy. But the whole getting up early, being productive, trying to problem solve, write IEPs, and be on top of the game... Not sure I'm ready for all of that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hopes and Dreams

Last week I was at school for parent conferences and was catching up with our fabulous speech-language pathologist when I noticed the bulletin board in her office. She'd taken the idea of Responsive Classroom's hopes and dreams that most classrooms at our school use. Not letting the fact that she wasn't in a classroom stop her, she had given each child a paper t-shirt where they each wrote their individual goal for speech. They ranged from broad categories like "social skills" to specific goals like "r sounds".
Above the bulletin board was a sign that read Hopes and Dreams, with each child's signature.

I love that she adapted the idea of hopes and dreams to the speech room. One of the greatest things you can teach children with special needs is how to set goals and work toward reaching them. They also benefit from having a good understanding of their disabilities and how they can work toward progress. It empowers them by letting them know they have control of their environment and themselves. And of course, a sense of community is essential to them as well.
I love that she tweaked the idea to work for our kids.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Shameful uses of a baby

I've continued to go to school to visit my class to get to know them better. I've been loving stopping in to read to them, watch them work at their centers, and chat with them. Of course, every time I've been there it has been with the baby.

There are so many ways you can use a baby in a classroom-
"Everyone sit quietly, don't wake the baby!"
"Why aren't you working? The baby wants to hear you read!"
"Show the baby the first letter in your name?"
"Oh! Go sit down, the baby needs to see everyone sitting down!"

Really, it's been kind of shameful. And I am absolutely screwed when I come back to work without the baby. Those kids will have no incentive to do anything I say once it is just me,

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Education horror story

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/charting_my_own_course/2011/10/a_tale_of_two_teacher_evaluations.html

This horrified me. Maybe because I've heard too many stories like this. This story is why merit pay makes me nervous, why I tend not to trust new administrators until they have proven themselves, and why I feel like you never can put too much stock in teacher evaluations.

A think tank focused on creative solutions for future problem solvers -tree