Thursday, February 10, 2011

Morning Glory

Today was fantastic, maravilloso! It wasn't a Wednesday, and we made Valentine's Day cards with our reading buddies this morning. The kids were taking their time and doing a nice job.  We had indoor recess (as we did due to the below zero temperatures all week) and gave the kids a little extra play time to burn their excess energy off inside. I don't know if it was the Valentine's Day cards, or that the sun was shining, or that it was Thursday, but I was smiling all day. The kids were fun, funny, and sweet, but then again they usually are.

I have found that in my fifth year of teaching, something I really feel like I lack is the time to focus on our students, enjoy them and get to know their needs as the small people that they are.  From the very beginning of the year we are pushing our little 5 year-olds to reach high academic standards without really asking them what their standards for their teacher are.  I'm guessing it probably has something to do with hugs and good snacks. Today there was less focus on the structure and more on the kids.  It was an unintended but welcome break.

Following their excitement with the Packers winning the superbowl, we had a math lesson with a little clipart running-back and a field with 0 to 10 yards.  The running back would "run" forward a number of yards and then the students figured out how many yards were left to get to 10 for a first down. It was really simple to put together, but the students loved being able to manipulate the football player but not necessarily have to write down answers. I was amazed at how quickly they began to understand the concept of "10s Friends."

After school we had a meeting and we were presented with more resources as to how to develop the students' ability to form and decode words in Spanish.  Sometimes I look at these new curriculum pieces that are hundreds and hundreds of pages long in disbelief.  I am supposed to know them well, but I simply feel that I am missing out on knowing my students. There isn't enough time in the day (let alone paid time) to do it all. My students only have one shot at Kindergarten (well, in MOST cases) and I only have one shot to make them love school, feel valued, and teach them real life and learning skills. If the curriculum materials are valuable enough I will learn it through using it with the students.  Otherwise it seems as though the trend is to replace it with something else after a few years. I know I sound a bit jaded on this already, but no one loves my job more than I do. It simply takes time to learn students, their capabilities, and then later to find materials that appropriately match what the students are capable of doing.

In Kindergarten it seems like all our little morning glories are expected to blossom, and they usually do. This is the idea of "No Child Left Behind." Their parents provide them with the soil (some richer and darker than others), the teachers are the gardners that provide the trellis, and those little flowers reach for the sun on their own. There are always those stunted ones and you get to a certain point where you simply cannot put anymore fertilizer on them or your burn them out and possible damage the soil for the rest of the plot.  If we keep over-watering them with information they won't even look to the sun anymore, but feel like they are drowning where they stand. This is what "developmentally appropriate" means to me: room to grow on the trellis and the right amount of sun and rain to do so.  They simply won't photosynthesize any faster than nature lets them.

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