With only one lovely week off between the end of the regular term and the beginning of the six week special education summer session many students and teachers were not jumping for joy to return to school this week.
I have to say I was among them. I definitely would have liked to have a few more beach days. Besides for one rainy day, I spent the majority of my week off swimming, and reading. It was a very chill week.
That being said, it was good to see my students this week and hear about the exciting things they did with their families during their time off. Children have a different time continuum. They pack everything they remember doing during a week into a description of what happened on one day. It never fails to make me smile.
To overcome my students’ summer school blahs I made sure to put on my silliest Miss Jan show, doing my best to incite smiles and giggles, while my students practiced the skills they needed to. Don’t tell my administration but those smiles and giggles are what keeps me coming back each year, each summer, not the pay.
January has been a difficult month. My school has quarantined multiple classes in both sites I visit, without sharing much information and without providing support to the therapists/teachers who continue to provide both remote and in-person sessions. According to my school admin., as long as you are have only been in a room or in contact with a student who was exposed to someone who tested positive for less than ten minutes you have nothing to worry about. As a teacher for pre-school students with delays, who are encouraged to wear their masks, but not required to, well let’s just say . . . I’m worried.
Worry compounded with a lack of compensation, yet increasing expectations has affected my personal writing time. I’m having difficulty attending to my personal creative efforts outside of the materials I create for my students. I can’t seem to lose my concerns by creating stories as I’m used to doing.
Thank goodness for Storystorm. For the first time ever, I have completed the challenge to come up with a picture book idea for each day of January. The guest bloggers on Tara Lazar’s blog Writing for Children While Raising Them had a good deal of positive take away thoughts that have helped me through the month.
I’m hoping February will be a better month both for clarity, and creativity. I hope it’s that way for you too.
Months ago I entered a book giveaway contest on the site Writing and Illustrating https://kathytemean.wordpress.com. I was the happy winner chosen. The book was, Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! by :Donna Marie.
When I read the blurb about the book, I knew it would be perfect to help my students, who are pre-k age, make some sense of why masks are needed now, the importance of thorough hand washing, and give them a window onto the concept of social distancing.
Just this past Friday, Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! with Sam arrived in the mail. The author was kind enough to write a lovely inscription in the book acknowledging teachers as heroes too. I, as well as so many of my colleagues have found ourselves in difficult positions during these times. Although I can only speak for myself, I believe I’m not alone in appreciating the recognition.
There are eight diverse and inclusive versions of Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! Each one depicts children following the guidelines of mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing. By following those three necessities the children see themselves as hero helpers to the essential workers getting us through this pandemic. Essential workers are depicted in illustrations along with their titles which is another plus as my students have recently studied the topic of community helpers.
Available for download at PIPPINHEROHELPERS.COM are charts, signs and coloring pages encouraging the necessary protocols through fun illustrations with simple straightforward language.
Thank you :Donna Marie for creating this book validating children’s concerns and allowing them to see characters they can relate to face the challenges they find themselves going through.
My lesson plans for today include reading Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers!with Sam. I’m sure the story will get rave reviews.
It’s the week before break and students in school, at home and remote, are counting down days while parents and teachers are adding up bills and carefully stacking the packages that were left on their porches.
Concentrating on work, no matter the kind, is hard this time of year as we’re all looking forward to holiday cheer. It happens like clockwork year after year, but this last month of 2020, considering all we’ve been through, the ante’s been upped. It’s in our own best interest to do all that we can do to sleigh ride into break while working toward achieving our children’s/students’ educational goals and objectives that still need to be met.
In school, I saw the transformation begin last week. Suddenly the activities that used to hold my students’ attention just couldn’t compete.
This week I’m going to haul out the holly, deck the halls, turn on the brightest strings of lights, hang some tinsel as Jerry Herman’s lyrics to the song We Need a Little Christmas, so aptly recommend. In other words, if I can’t beat ’em I’ll join ’em. It’ll be much more fun in the end.
So, if you’re homeschooling, or teaching whether remote or in person during this holiday season, I’d definitely suggest working in some holiday fun to whatever you’re trying to convey. I think you’ll be surprised how easy it is to fold it in once you give into it. The pay off in your children’s/students’ attention to task may be at least five if not ten-fold, of course nothing is fool proof. There will still be good days and not so good days. But by giving into the magic of the holidays you might just reduce some holiday stress while helping your child/student learn, and that’s what I’d consider a win-win.
Wishing you tidings of good cheer, happy holidays, and a way better new year,
Learning is the end goal any teacher wants their students to achieve. How a teacher gets a student there is in their lesson plans, their creativity and engaging ideas.
In The Noisy Classroom, written by Angela Shante’, illustrated by Alison Hawkins and published by West Margin Press, the main character is a little girl who is concerned about her upcoming year in third grade and the possibility that her classroom might be the noisy classroom. The noisy classroom doesn’t have the familiar structure or rules she had been used to. She’s so concerned she thinks she ought to pack up and move to Antarctica.
When it happens that she does get enrolled in Ms. Johnson’s noisy classroom she finds she’s having fun, but she’s not so sure she’s learning. The week flies by and she’s learned about: skip-counting by threes, writing a story from an ant’s point of view, playing math ball, writing calculations on her desk with dry erase markers, appreciating a poem written by Nikki Giovanni and freeze dancing her way to lunch.
Waiting to get a drink from the water fountain, she is standing behind two quiet rows of 2nd graders and realizes learning in Ms. Johnson’s noisy classroom is way better than any other class and way, way better than Antarctica.
I appreciated this book from both a student’s point of view and a teacher’s point of view. Going into a new class and meeting a teacher who teaches and manages the classroom differently than a student is used to is understandably anxiety inducing. But seeing the creativity and joy of learning presented in the persona of Ms. Johnson and her noisy classroom was validating for me as a teacher.
I’m a teacher for visually impaired and blind pre-school students. I adapt my lessons and materials dependent on an individual child’s usable vision, and try my hardest to tap into what’s fun for each child.
If I can hone in on what’s important to my student and have the lesson include whatever that might be, be it: car emblems, construction trucks, tools, happy faces, characters from TV or from movies, etc., I know I’m heading toward engaging my student’s interest in learning. When it all comes together and I see their faces light up with smiles and laughter, it’s the best!
Sometimes, it’s hard to get there. Sometimes, the thing that really engages a small child can make it difficult for them to transition onto the next task. When that happens the if . . . then scenario has to be put into action, if you do this . . . then you’ll get to do that. It’s not optimal because if the child digs his or her heels in, it takes a good amount of creative brainstorming to figure out how best to change the dynamic. And if you add on that the student is learning remotely, well you have to enlist the parents, more so than ever, to team up with you to make their child’s learning successful.
Whether you’re a parent, a student or a teacher or all three, I hope your week is full of noisy, fun creativity because that equals a whole bunch of learning!