Sunday, June 30, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted! (Linky Party)

In the spirit of being a better blogger, I decided to join in on a Getting-to-Know-You Linky Party! If you came over from Flying into First Grade, welcome! I don't have a ton of posts (yet), but I think the ones I do have are entertaining and (maybe) useful. Leave a comment, and say hi! :)

A Tic Tac Toe edition of the Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party! (Flying into First Grade)

I am choosing the middle horizontal row...

First Year of Teaching first year. I know that everyone's first year is crazy (even if you have the most perfectly, wonderfully behaved, sweetest children in the world!), but mine may take the cake. After graduating from Vanderbilt, a couple of friends decided on Boston area schools for various graduate pursuits. Not wanting to be left out of the big city adventures, I applied for (what felt like) a million teaching jobs, from kindergarten all the way up to sixth grade. In July, I was offered a kindergarten position at a school on an Air Force base north of Boston. I was thrilled and accepted the position on the spot! (Ok, ok...I called my mom first...) For the first six weeks, I co-taught with a teacher who was leaving for maternity leave and had decided not to return for the rest of the year. This was WONDERFUL. She was a great teacher, and it helped relieve a lot of the start-of-year stress and preparations. Things were going pretty swimmingly, though we had one boy who stood out for some seemingly minor behavior issues. We started him on a positive reinforcement plan, which seemed to work for awhile. However, things went from typical 5 year old behavior to VERY atypical 5 year old behavior faster than any of us (the social worker, the principal, the SPED liaison, or I) could have predicted. This child would scream, hit, punch, scratch, run from the room, and throw furniture. He ripped his clothes during a fit, not once, but twice. He was evaluated by every specialist available, and he was eventually removed from the classroom. Finally, he did receive two diagnoses, and we were able to refer him to a therapeutic behavioral school, in a nearby district. So...there was all of that. (For perspective, our SPED liaison told me that this was a case that teachers MAY see once in their careers...and for it to happen during my first I am so glad that this child is getting the help he needed, and I have heard that he is doing very well (almost four years later) at that school. that would have been stressful enough for my first year. But how about a student, looking for attention, decides to engage in copycat behavior? Yes, you got it. Yelling, screaming, hitting, tearing apart the classroom, hiding under chairs, throwing furniture. Then, there was a child engaged in a nasty custody battle, and another whose parent left the family halfway through the year. And don't forget we were on a military base, so three of my kids had parents overseas. All in all, though, that year was an unbelievably valuable learning experience. I had the most supportive coworkers, who did everything they could to make sure that my students and I succeeded. I figured that if I could still love teaching after a first year like that, then this was definitely the career for me!

(Ok, my next two will be shorter. So if you're still reading...thank you...)

My Favorite School Memory

This is a tough one (probably true for most teachers - there's a reason we return to schools, right??), but I'm going to go with a fourth grade memory. (I sure do love fourth grade and fourth graders...I think I'll get back to that age eventually!) Every Thursday in fourth grade, we had Social Studies Bees, which are exactly what they sound like - spelling bees but with social studies questions. For a competitive person who enjoyed the spotlight, these were my THING. I can remember studying states and capitols for hours, knowing that the bees always came down to those tricky ones. (Montpelier, anyone?) What I take away from these bees is to remember that learning experiences should be FUN. They don't have to be worksheets and workbooks. (And yes, I can still name all 50 capitols.)

Books I'm Reading

I just recently (well, about a month ago - AH! Summer, slow down!) finished all three of Gillian Flynn's books: Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects. Wow. I highly, highly recommend all three. But, I also highly, highly recommend throwing in some mindless chick lit in between. All three are intense, insane mysteries. I am usually not bad at figuring out plot twists, but I didn't see any of the twists coming in these books. Great summer reads!

I'm currently reading The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl. I love her books about medieval and Tudor England and have read most of them. This current one is about Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, one of the main (women) players in the Cousins' War. I believe there are five books about the Cousins' War by Gregory, and I'll have one more to go after this one. If you enjoy historical fiction, I recommend any of Gregory's books!

Wow...if you read all of that, let's be friends? Seriously, leave a comment. I'd love to get to know some other teacher bloggers!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer! And a new job!

Yes, you read that right...I am on SUMMER VACATION! Lazy mornings, sunglasses, swimming pools, and lots of reading, here I come! (Ok, I actually start nannying next Thursday, but I have big plans until then...including a Boston road trip with one of my best friends!)

My summer vacation started last Friday at 11:00! We went to Mass, attended a bridging ceremony where all of the kids bridged up to the next grade, and had an ice cream party with all of the kindergartners. The PTO gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers, since I won't be returning to that school next year. Which brings me to my next point...

While I am sad to leave the school I was at this year...I am SO excited to announce that I accepted a job teaching preschool at the school ACROSS THE STREET from my apartment!! Literally, a 2.5 minute walk from my front door to the school...sure beats the 30 minutes I was driving this year! The school is a mile from the grade school I attended, located in the same neighborhood, and was always our rival in sports, etc. Honestly, it feels like going home, and I LOVE that.

I am also so excited to get back into a preschool classroom. I will have two classes, a 4-5 year olds' class (Pre-K) and a 3-4 year olds' class (Preschool). I am basically serving as the director and the lead teacher, both roles that I love, as it gives me things to do outside of day-to-day teaching responsibilities, yet I still get to stay in a classroom (definitely not ready to leave yet!). It sounds like I will have a great deal of freedom with regard to curriculum choices, lesson planning, and special activities. I think it'll be a great year!! (And many more great years will follow, hopefully! I have never stayed in the same classroom more than one year, and I am really, really excited to settle in for awhile.)

If you're still finishing up school, YOU CAN DO IT! Here's to a relaxing, fun-filled, adventurous summer! We all deserve it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kidspeak, Episode 1

Teaching kindergarten (and any other grade, really), I hear thousands of (usually unintended) hilarious comments and conversations every week. I decided to attempt to document some of these gems here. Who knows? If my students continue to be funny enough, I may even publish a book one day!


Last week, I was reading a book about Easter to my class, and the author described The Last Supper as one of the events leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I briefly explained that this is why we celebrate Communion, and that when they are in second grade, they will get to eat the bread and drink the wine...

Child C: (raises hand) Miss L? Is it RED wine?
Me: Yes, it is....
Child C: (grinning from ear to ear) Oh GOOD! I can drink that kind!!

Guess white wine gives him a headache...? :)


I'll be back with more Kidspeak, as I'm sure my students will keep the material coming!

I'm officially on Spring Break after our one day work week! (Tough life, eh?) My interview is today, so send good thoughts/prayers/vibes! Happy Wednesday!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Dear Spring, Where are you?

Well, here we are...another snow day. On March 25th. 5 days into this season where the weather supposedly warms up, plants grow, and the sun comes back out. Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it. Argh!

(That said, there is a very little amount of snow out there, and canceling school seems a bit unnecessary. But shhh, don't tell my principal I said that! I'm perfectly happy to stay in pajamas on the couch!)

We have one more day of school this week, and then we're off until next Tuesday. It's generally known as our Spring "Pause" since it's a mere 4 days, instead of the 6+ most schools around here have. But, no matter, I'll take it! When we get back, we're in the home stretch to summer vacation - crazy! 7.5 weeks left after this pause!

Speaking of the end of the year, I have an interview on Wednesday for a primary position at another Catholic school. Fingers crossed it goes well and/or more open positions pop up soon! I am planning to spend today preparing for the interview. (And I also have big plans to clean my apartment and spend money that I don't have at the mall near me...but I just want to buy summery clothes! It'll help spring realize that it's supposed to be here...right?) This school looks great, about 10 minutes closer to me (in the opposite direction) than my current school, but very similar demographics and feel. I love my current school, but there are no open teaching positions for next year, sadly. I need to get back to a full (true?) classroom position, as opposed to latchkey and After Care. So, job applying and interviews, it is!

Although it doesn't feel much like spring, we have been learning about the season and its holidays! We have been tracking lion and lamb days this month (grr...last year, this would have been a much more pleasant exercise...), we learned about and celebrated St. Patrick's Day, and currently, we have been learning about Easter and making Easter crafts.

We made pictures to depict the saying "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb." (Although, I may have to explain again that this isn't always true. Refer to snow day on 3/25.)

Here is part of the class display. I love imperfect (non-cookie cutter) kid art! I also like having the kids cut out the sayings (We did a similar project at Christmas.) to reinforce word order and left-right/top-bottom orientation.

(Of course, I found this idea - and tweaked it a bit - on Pinterest.)

We also celebrated St. Patrick's Day this month. I read books about St. Patrick, his legends, and why we wear green and look for leprechauns and shamrocks on St. Patty's Day. (I highly recommend both of those books to teach young children the background of this holiday!)

We sponge painted shamrocks, after the kids mixed their own unique color of green, experimenting with different amounts of blue and yellow paints. These looked great on our windows!

We were also visited by a few pesky leprechauns, who turned over chairs and desks, spilled our dress-up clothes, and smeared frosting all over desks and the floor! We think they felt bad about the mess, though, because they did leave us some delicious shamrock cookies, green frosting, and green sprinkles!

(Also, hunting for leprechauns? Oh, my goodness, were these kids into it. In After Care, we had fourth graders sending clues and leading the hunt - without any prompting by us - it was really sweet to see them trying to get the little ones so excited.)

Found this through one of the teaching blogs I follow (Emily at I Love My Classroom) and here's a link to the printable. These were so easy (and cheap!) to make. It's nice to remind my students that I love teaching them and feel very lucky to know each and every one of them! I plan to do this next year, no matter what grade I'm teaching - I think older grades would love this little treat also.

And that about sums up March in my room! I'll be back soon to share the Easter project we've been working on. Looks like some of our other Easter crafts will either be skipped or postponed until after the big day.

I'm off to enjoy my snow day, prepare for the interview, clean, and shop! Happy Monday, all! If this is your last week before Spring Break, you can do it!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Look at me! 2 posts in 2 days. Maybe I'm getting the hang of this blogging thing?

I'm linking up (a week late...) with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the March Currently! Here's what I'm up to tonight.

Listening - Well, it was a rerun of Parks & Rec, but this took me so long to finish that I'm now listening to a rerun of The Office. In any case, Parks & Rec is one of my favorite shows, and The Office was my favorite show for a good 4 years running. I haven't seen it in years, but I'm happy to report it's still pretty funny!

Loving - Trader Joe's brand foods. Enough said, am I right? (Seriously, if you haven't tried these almonds, go buy them. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.)

Thinking - A 4 day week with a break in the middle of that week? Yes, please. A girl could get used to this.

Wanting - Summertime. Warm weather. Swimming. Bathing suits. Sundresses. Flip flops. Again, enough said.

Needing - Yeah, it's 9:15. I should make something for dinner soon...

Like/Love/Hate - My name starts with an L (clearly), so I went with Like: Lamination (um, what teacher doesn't?!), Love: Laughter (I couldn't survive without it!), Hate: Lying (from students or peers - it's not ok! It frustrates me more than almost anything else.)

I hope you enjoyed stopping by my blog! What are you up to currently?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Snow Day! (Updates, Jan Brett, St. Patty's, and Lent)

Well, hey there. I guess I'm not too great at this blogging thing, but seeing as we FINALLY got a Snow Day today (first one in 2 years!), I thought I'd stop by and show you what we've been up to in 2013!

We have been busy this winter in afternoon kindergarten! Here's what we've been doing:

We learned about snowflakes and how each one is unique and special - just like each of us! We made two different kinds of snowflakes: one using foam cutouts and glitter glue and the other, using a paper template, glue, and glitter. I think we can take these down now that we've gotten our snow day!

We made a class mural for open house. I found the kid clip art on TpT (free!) and had each child select a picture that resembled him/her and color it in. Then I outlined a mural, and each kid got to paint a different section. The word bubbles have the reason that each child said they love St. Jude! We got a lot of compliments during Open House on this.

I share a birthday with one of my students, which was very fun! He made me cookies, and we celebrated together. We are exactly 20 years apart. :)

We had a beautiful 70 degree day at the end of January, and the kids were thrilled to be outside in short sleeves! (I may have been even more thrilled than they were... Unfortunately, I think the groundhog lied, seeing as how it's now March, and we have a snow day...)

Here are some of our Valentine activities:

Sorting and counting Valentine's M&M's. We also created patterns from the different colors. And yes, they got to eat the M&M's when we finished!

We made Valentine's Messages in a Bottle (found here on Pinterest). The kids chose people to receive their messages, and we included Valentine's M&M's in place of sand/seashells. We even made a secret delivery to an older sister's classroom on Valentine's Day!

We estimated how many candy hearts would fit onto a picture of a larger heart, then counted to see how close our guesses were.

 We worked in pairs to sort candy hearts by color and individually graph our results.

President's Day: We made the cutest reversible George Washington's and Abe Lincoln's. One side of the craft is Washington's face and coat, and the other side is Lincoln's face and top hat. I found this craft here and adapted it for our needs.

We have still been making plenty of time for play!

A sunny and cold day earlier this week afforded us some play time outside. Here, the girls became fascinated with a sewer on the playground. You don't know fun until you've dropped sticks (and Cheetos found on the ground - ew) into a sewer!

These awesome Melissa & Doug toys had been in the Staff Room for months, until I was encouraged to bring them downstairs. The kids love to mix the train and bus with our jungle animals set. The jungle animals have traveled to some exotic locales!

 Dramatic play fun with some of the dollhouse toys!

We have also been studying Jan Brett, one of my favorite authors and illustrators. My kids went to the school library on Monday, and almost every one of them checked out a book by Jan Brett, completely unprompted by me! I love that! We're going to continue our author study next week with Tomie DePaola, followed by Eric Carle and Chris VanAllsburg. If you have any other kindergarten-appropriate suggestions, please let me know! The kids are creating their own author study book, where they record their favorite book by each other, a reason for liking the book, and a picture to illustrate the book. I think this will be a great kindergarten keepsake and hopefully, will help their parents select library books over the summer months.

Also up next on the agenda: St. Patrick's Day! I think we're going to sponge paint shamrocks. We've been out of green paint since we created the mural for Open House (see above), and rather than grabbing some more from the supply room, I think we'll do a quick color mixing lesson, and I'll let each child mix his/her own ratio of blue and yellow to create a unique green color. I think this will make the shamrocks even cuter on our windows!

As we're a Catholic school, we have also been learning about Lent, Easter, and the story of the Cross. I will check back in later this week or next week (no, really, I PROMISE) to show you a beautiful book I found that describes the Stations of the Cross in a child-appropriate way. We also made "stained glass" crosses (see picture on right). I need to take a picture of the finished crosses in the window. They are beautiful! If you're a Catholic school teacher, what have you been doing to teach your students the importance of Lent and preparing for Easter?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year, New Post (Finally)

Well, I haven't been the best blogger so far. BUT, New Years is the perfect time to change that. In the spirit of resolutions, I have decided to make some (not huge, but still important) life changes. Vanderbilt (my alma mater) stressed SMART goals, so in that vein, I will attempt to make these goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. (Thank you, Google, for reminding me what each letter in SMART actually represents...) I have decided on 3 life/personal goals and 3 teaching goals.

Personal Life Goals:
1. I will make it to the gym at least 4 days/week: I really need to stop spending money on a gym membership that I'm not using. Plus, I feel so much better/happier/more energetic when I work out.
2. I will make an effort to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday. I am not the worst eater in the world (well, not usually - thanks, holiday season), but I could certainly improve my eating habits. Going along with this, I will make dinner at home 4 nights/week and try my best to cut out processed foods. Like gym trips, I need to remember that I feel so much better when I eat real food.
3. Try new things! Go on adventures! I want to spend money on adventures, not things. I want to take opportunities for travel and try new things in my city. I grew up here, so I can get stuck going to the same places over and over with the same people. But I want to meet new people and try new places/food/adventures. Therefore, I will join at least one group to meet new people and take advantage of Groupons/Living Social deals as they come along.

Teaching Goals:
1. Interact with other teacher bloggers for new ideas and actually implement the new ideas. I want to make online teacher friends, who I can go to for support, lesson plans, behavior management, etc. I also want to become a better blogger myself, so I will make a deal to write at least 1 time per week. Hopefully, I can do more, but we'll try that at first!
2. Learn about Responsive Classroom - read books, find blogs/websites, and see if I can begin to implement in my classroom this year. If not, I plan to use it next year, so I want to become acquainted with the program anyway.
3. Seek out and find new teaching opportunities for next year. My current job (and school) is great, but as my principal referred to the position, "It's the minor leagues of teaching." (And he made sure to add that I need to "move up to the majors" - love the baseball analogy! Ha it was when the Reds were in the midst of their, ultimately failed, playoff baseball was on the minds of all Cincinnatians.) I have a few leads on new positions, all of which intrigue me and are at schools where I would love to teach. I want to actively seek out the principals and learn about the schools and the positions. Then, when I am offered a position, I plan to study specifics of that grade/subjects I will be teaching. I will use the summer to actually plan for the upcoming school year!

So, I'm hoping that writing these goals out will hold me accountable for accomplishing them. I plan to refer back to them at different points throughout the year. Maybe a monthly update on how I'm doing?

In any case, Happy 2013! Let's make it a great year!