Posts from the ‘education’ Category

The hardest things

So there’s this boy in one of my middle school classes. Pretty decent musician. Which means he’s somewhat of a behavior problem. Because that’s the way it always is. Anyway, he was complaining because his part in the piece we’re playing is “boring”. I said, that’s funny since you chose that part. And he said, yeah, because it was easy.

And so I said, yeah, well the most significant things I’ve done in my life, the stuff I remember and am proud of, have always been the hardest things.

Teaching where I teach is truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Every day I learn something new about myself and about my students, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. It’s like my job is bi polar.

Yesterday, a particularly difficult second grader had a wonderful day in music. Usually we give them school PBIS bucks to save towards a reward, but when I offered him one, he asked if I could have lunch with him instead. He didn’t want a thing, he wanted time. With me. How could I not go? So I didn’t do the photocopies, or my lesson plans. I just spent some time with him at his cafeteria table. And talked about how we both like jalapeños. He asked how his sister was doing in music. Fine, I told him. When I saw his mother later at conferences, she said it was all he could talk about that day.

And then I have a day like I had today. Not the worst day. But not awesome either. Mostly management. Not enough music. Pretty sure one of my students was making fun of me for half of the class, trying to derail my teaching. Luckily drumming is too cool and won out. I hear myself teaching and I don’t recognize my voice. I sound frustrated. I sound tired. In the teacher’s lounge, we all say the same things. Don’t take it personally, while we do the exact opposite, trying to figure out what we could have done differently.

And so I’ll go to school tomorrow, and it will probably be better. I need to listen to my own words.

The hardest things we do are the most significant.


Babybels wear pajamas

So yesterday the boy and I went to Costco and bought some of those babybel cheeses. As he is taking off the waxy part he says, “Mama, it’s like the cheese is wearing red pajamas!”

There are so many blog posts that I’ve had in my head, unfortunately I haven’t gotten around to writing them down. So I’m kind of going backwards.

Earlier this week, the girl decided to attach her homework together with spray cheese. Yep. Needless to say that was a redo.

On Thursday, I had a complete freak out before class. The poor librarian must have thought I was insane. I’m doing an Orff unit with the middle schoolers (that i plan to write about later) and there were no mallets in my class room. Couldn’t find them anywhere. And since I had just read what happened to Sophanne, I feared the worst. The class coming to music that day was the group I was a little worried about in terms of buy in and to not be prepared is asking for trouble. As it turned out, one of those students saved the day. The day before, if you’ve been following Colorado weather, it dumped snow and many of our teachers were stuck, including one of my teammates. When this happens, we often double up the classes in my room and have a movie fest. 60 kindergartners at once. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Anyway, I had asked one of my choir students to help clean up the room before they came and put away anything that she thought would be distracting. Thankfully, she was in that class coming down the hall, saw my distress and quickly showed me where she had hidden the mallets. I ❤ my students. Heh.

Over break, I actually knit! Ear flap hat and mittens for my friend and soon to be sister in law, 1940s watch cap for my brother and mittens for my nephew, the most happiest toddler.

Can't find any pictures so I'll leave you with a cool sunrise shot I got the other morning in the way to school.


Picture day 2011

Miss? Why are your lips blue? Are you ok?

Um. That would be makeup. But thanks for asking.

So I’ve started to have the kids sign out when they use the restroom. Don’t judge. I need to know where they are. 🙂

I checked the log today and saw (names changed)

Jim. 9/27/11
Bob. Poop

I love teaching! Where else would this stuff happen?!

School’s Out!

First real year back to teaching is in the can.  All in all, I think it was a good year.  Last week was crazy, K-5 field day, Kindergarten concert, 8th grade continuation and Middle School field day all in one week.  I’m super proud of my students and all we did this year.  I’m pretty sure my learning curve was as steep as theirs.  Heh.

Middle School did a movement unit this year that culminated in a “Tinikling/Line Dance/Thriller Flash Mob”  Sort of.  Lots of work but totally worth it.

1-2’s did a seasons program with songs that spanned the year.  (Thank you K-8 magazine!)

3-5’s did The Elephant’s Child.  Pretty sure I’m never going to get the Great Grey Green and Greasy Limpopo River out of my head.)

3rd trimester in Middle School is the guitar unit.  My beginning guitars had a contest to play our school song for the Kindergarten Program.  They were adorable.   6th graders and Kinders.

8th grade pulled off a classy continuation.  I had a pair of 8th graders who performed Vegas by Sara Bareilles and it was lovely.   They made the song their own which I thought was just brilliant.  It was just acoustic guitar and her voice.  Loved it.  Can you tell how I really feel?  Heh.  I wish I could show you the rehearsal video.  Stupid personal code of ethics.  Here’s a live version.

So anyway, it’s summer and I slept in all the way to 7 am.  Heh.

More Tales from the Kindergarten

The last few months have been so heavy, I thought it was time for….

More Tales from the Kindergarten!

Tale #1

As we are just finishing up CSAP, those in the Specials world know that it means our schedule is thrown into much craziness, often resulting in doubled and tripled classes either on Evil Giant Recess, or what I sometimes like to call Music/PE film festival.  This year, during one of our films, I overheard two kindergarteners talking very seriously about the war in Iraq.

Serious Little Boy, “Well.   You know what it’s all about, right?”

Cute Know it All Girl, “Yes.”  Thinks. ” No.”

SLB, “It’s all about gas.  America has lots of gas and other countries don’t.”

CKIAG, “Well I knew that.”


Tale #2

Hello. My name is Buckthorn.

I’m a puppet girl.  Can’t help it.  They are sometimes extensions of my own psyche.  I’ve been known to go to lunch with the bunny still on my arm.  Oh yeah.  There’s a bunny there.  Anyway, I’ve had Buckthorn since I was a small child.  My librarian mama named him after a character in Watership Down.  It’s never occurred to me to change his name.  Till last week.

The kindergarteners know where my puppets live and get super excited when I start walking towards that cabinet.  I went to get my rabbit the other day.  One ecstatic little boy said, “You guys!  Sshhhh!  Be quiet! 

She’s going to get Butt-thorn!”

Shave and a haircut, two bits.  🙂


Sometimes I think the world feels ominous.  Where is my breaking point?

First, there was Kim.

Then there was a former student, who passed away suddenly last week.

My mother had surgery on her heart this week.  She is doing well.  Thank goodness.  Hopefully out of the ICU tomorrow.  Every time I see her she is better than the time before and I am confident she is going to be all right.

On the layover to my parents’, I got a call from my friend at school.  A whole family died in a car crash.  All of them.  Three sweet boys from my classes and their parents.  Gone.  It doesn’t seem real.  Then I see their pictures in the news.  I just talked to them.  On Thursday.  They were all standing outside the teacher’s lounge, presumably to go to the basketball game the oldest was playing in.  The oldest was really excited about his classes’ music project.  He very badly wanted me to add a Michael Jackson song to the line up.  And was so persistent in trying to get me to play “Keyboard Cat” on YouTube.  The middle boy, always quick with a smile, was learning recorder.  Always trying his very best.  And the little one had just finished his first big music program.  He was so serious.  Like a little grown up.  I’m pretty sure he remembered everything I ever taught him.

I feel like the world is ominous.  And heavy.  While I’m here supporting my parents through my mom’s surgery, I’m not really dealing with the grief of my lost students, but I know it’s going to catch up to me soon.  Most of the time it’s easy to focus on other things, but each time I think about returning to school on Thursday, I see their faces.  And I am enormously sad.

The gift.

Every teacher has one.  One of those kids.  Who am I kidding?  I probably have about 30 of them.

This one is a little girl and for some reason this year she’s trying everything to get attention.  Weird noises, rude comments, lack of participation… It doesn’t seem to matter to her whether it’s positive or negative.

So on picture day (yes, ANOTHER picture day story), I was complimenting her class on how nice they looked and she blurted out, “You look ugly.” (Yeah, seriously.  Twice in one day.  Did I mention I’ve started doing my hair different since then?)  To be truthful, it actually doesn’t hurt my feelings.  Being bald and scarred will do that to a girl.  I did mention it to her teacher though and he set some things in motion that gave me a wonderful gift.

He called the little girl on her behavior and had her send a letter home to her parents that needed to be signed.  And she came and apologized to me.  (This wasn’t the gift part. Though it’s a good reminder that we need to hold all kids accountable for their actions.)

Here’s where it gets good.  When you only see students every third day for 40 minutes, it is sometimes hard to really get to know a kid and where they’re coming from.  In that little 5 minutes I had with her, we talked about why she said what she said.  “I was trying to be funny.”  she mumbled.

Now I’m all about the funny.  Once, when I came back from an absence, one of my students ran up to me and said, “Thank goodness you’re back!  We didn’t laugh once yesterday!”

So the little girl and I talked about being funny but not at someone’s expense.  And I gave her a hug and she went back to class.

So here’s the gift part.

When she came to music, she sat right down next to me and sang the whole class period.  To be honest, I didn’t even know she knew the songs.  And out of the mouth of one of “those” kids, was a very sweet little voice.  On task, the entire class period.

Now, I can guarantee you she’s going to act out again.  It’s part of who she is and the life she deals with every day.  But now, when she does, I have this memory. 

Of the day she sang. 

 And the day where she really loved music.

picture day

Today was picture day.  So I’m standing in the hallway with my cute little 1st graders who are primped and dressed in their finest.  Since today is the day I get the picture for my id badge, yours truly even did some extra primping this morning.  I did my hair.  I put on a little makeup.  Felt pretty good.


I was talking to one of my first graders telling him how nice he looked.  And he replied,

“You look like my Dad.’

Tales from the Kindergarten

So I walked into the office today and a little gentleman from Kindergarten was sitting there.

“Excuse me.  Excuse me.  Excuse me.  Excuse-”

“Yes, _____?”  I said.

“I bit a boy today!”

First, I’m thinking, why are you telling me this? and second, that this is not something that should be a source of pride.

“You did?  Is he alright?  Can’t go around biting people.”

“But I’m a vampire in the morning.  See my teeth?” as he shows me his canines.

I had to leave before I laughed.

Kindergarten thoughts

Ask any teacher, and I bet they will tell you that they have back to school nightmares.   Mine used to be about the 6th grade throwing some sort of rebellion during my class.  I’d even get those dreams when I was not teaching, along with the its-the-last-day-of-finals-and-I-forgot-to-go-to-class dream.

You’d think I’d have middle school nightmares.

But I don’t.

Now the kindergarteners, on the other hand…


So I had my very first class of kindergarteners today.  They were cute and funny.  And only about a 1/3 of them speak English.  I have a feeling that my Spanish vocabulary is going to triple in the next few months.  I also have decided that teaching Kindergarten is like teaching a class entirely made up of my son.   All the different facets of his personality.  There are the School-Boys who follow directions and do their best.  There’s the squirrely-boys (no definition required, I think.)  There’s the Loud-shout-inappropriate-things-Boys, which in this case is a girl.   (Those of you that have attended church with us know this version of the Boy well.  🙂 )  There’s no-personal-space-boy, who pretty much spent the entire 40 minutes trying to get my attention by putting his hand on my arm, even while I was trying to play  guitar.  All in all, it was a good first day.  As long as I do my lessons in 5 minute  increments.  With every other activity involving hopping somehow.

Or marching.

And more hopping.