Amazing Kids

Amazing Kids

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Ultimate Compare and Contrast

I gave my students an assignment in writing. They were to think about their home and compare and contrast it with some other place. I didn't offer too many suggestions for the "other place", as I wanted them to come up with their own ideas. This is what one of my students had to offer in her final copy. You'll notice spelling and punctuation errors, but I think they add to the charm:

               "At home I fell safe and warm. When in a port-a-potty wich will only happen ones in my life I feel really grouse. When I am at home I have my family with me. When I'm in a port-a-potty all I have is a dirty toliet with blue water insid it. They don't even have a sink all they have is smelly sanitizer. My house is the most clean, pretty, amazing place. A port-a-potty is really small (and) my house is really big. Me and my sister have the most amazing in the world. A port-a-potty looks grouse and dirty on the outside. When you go insid you are like a inch away from the wall! My house smalles like cinnommin. A port-a-potty smalls like garbage and molded food. I love my house and I don't like a port-a-potty because my house is wonderful and a port-a-potty is atrotious."

This is one I'll never forget. Maybe I'll have it framed.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

What Do My Kids Need the Most?

We had a great holiday break. Our family spent a lot of time together and we were able to make some wonderful memories with our extended family as well. I love and appreciate so many things about my family and am incredibly blessed for the positive energy we share when we're all together.

Although I didn't go into the building the first week of our break, I did do a lot of thinking about what my kids need from me most of all. They need a teacher who knows the curriculum well and knows what they need to know in order to be ready for next year. Not only do I need to know the curriculum; I need to know how to convey those concepts in such a way that my students can discover, learn, and even teach each other. They need a teacher who keeps up to date with best teaching practices and new technologies. They need a teacher who helps them feel secure and safe, too. I don't mean just physically, although that's obviously a priority in the forefront of our lives right now. The security and safety they need is also in being able to risk being wrong, making mistakes, asking questions that seem "dumb" to others. They need to feel accepted by me. They need me to be a great role model, too. All these things and more are the "job" of a great teacher.

We've been back at school for a week now. I've still been mulling this question over: "What DO my kids need most from me?" Some of my kids have wonderful homes with loving parents and stability and a high degree of security. Some are even affluent. Some are not. Unfortunately, some of my kids are really having a tough go of things. Really, really tough. Yet I believe that every single student, whether secure or insecure at home, still needs something from her teacher that is going to be perceived differently than if it were coming from her parent or guardian. Some kids get it from their parents and some don't, but it's different coming from a teacher. Thinking back on my elementary years, although I wasn't able to identify it then, I think the one thing that made a difference in my view of myself was this one element.

What is this one thing? Admiration. I wanted my teachers to admire something about me. And it had to be stated. It could be my writing or my reading, or my ability to do my multiplication tables quickly, or my kindness toward others, my helpfulness or my musical ability, or even the new dress I was wearing. If my teacher admired something about me, my confidence soared. If, however, there was nothing in me to admire, if I was consistently admonished rather than admired, I considered myself worth less. Sometimes even worthless.

Each one of my students has something I admire. Each and every one. In daily conversations I get to discover and admire more of the heart of the kids in my class. I get to find out what makes them tick. I get to hear the victories and heartaches and struggles. In one I admire boldness while in another I admire the quiet strength in knowing her goals without tooting her own horn. There is admiration for one who has an incredibly quick wit and maybe even more admiration for another who is tenacious in his work habits because he knows academics are hard for him.

Every one of my kids has admirable traits that cry out to be acknowledged by me, the teacher. And when I admire them, I see their lives change. For good.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Here We Go!

A new year.

Wow! I'm excited about 2013 because of what happened at the beginning of our school year in September of 2012. I'm seeing kids reading like I've never seen before. In fact, I'm reading more. About the same amount in terms of "teacher books," but way more books that might appeal to my kids! That's been pretty cool. This increase in reading has given us so much to talk about and it's teaching me a tremendous amount about my kids: how they feel, what they're interested in - or not - and I'm learning that they have way more empathy than I gave them credit for.

This year I'm hopeful my students will be driven to read for enjoyment even more than they did before Christmas break. Students bringing book recommendations to me would be such a sweet reward. Adding to our classroom library will be fun, but stressful, too, because it's a little risky to pay money for books that aren't proven winners for fourth graders yet. (I'm so very thankful for, which provides books at very reasonable prices.)

The upcoming year also brings the hope of some new technology. Wouldn't it be wonderful for the kids in my classroom to be able to work right at their desks with an iPad (or mini-iPad) as they're reading, writing, learning or practicing math skills, or exploring the various regions of the United States? Maybe some could be working with a partner, searching for information, or possibly looking up on their own the primary industries in a state they've never visited. Looking for grants to provide as many iPads as possible is a primary goal this year.

I'm a little overwhelmed with the amazing things that have happened in our classroom so far this school year. As I think of all that's happened in these past four month, it's simply incredible what progress my kids have made. However, I'm also looking forward to even more exciting advances being made as we forge into 2013! Let's go!!