Friday, September 30, 2011

Like mother like teacher

I have two chairs in my classroom that were purchased at the thrift store. Just these junky soft chairs that are very old and kind of... gross. But the kids love them! And they always want to read and work while sitting in them. So I assign two kids every morning that get to sit in the chair that day.

If either of the students that are assigned to the chair are busy working at their desks, other students can sit in the chair for the time being. I just tell them they need to ask the student whose day it is.

One day one of the boys came up to me. He was done with his assignment and was going to read. The girl whose day it was to sit in the chair was busy working on a project with her group on the other side of the room. He came up and asked me if he could sit in her chair since she wasn't. I told him he needed to go ask her if that was ok.

A few seconds later he came up to me, seeming a little annoyed. He said, "She told me that I needed to come ask you if it is ok." I laughed and said, "Yes, that is ok with me." Then he said, "You guys are just like my mom and dad. Go ask your mom.... Go ask your dad....Go ask your mom..." As he walked away from me, he was still muttering under his breath, "Go ask your mom... Go ask your dad..."

Poor kid. But I couldn't help but get a good laugh out of it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Getting Crafty

A little something about me... I am semi-creative.
Semi because, while I do love making and creating, I can rarely come up with my own ideas.
However, I am a reeeally good copier.

I was on one of my new favorite websites, Craftgawker, and I came across these really cute fall wreaths. Of course, the person was selling them for like $40. So I said, hey, I could probably make something like that by myself for a much smaller cost. So I put my copying skills to the test and was pretty pleased with the results.

Styrofoam wreath from Michael's wrapped in yarn found on sale at Wal-mart+leaves bought in a little packet for $1 (at Michael's again)+beads that I already had lying around.

And no, it is not quite autumn yet..... But I already hung it up anyway. I've been ready for summer to be over for a while. No more 90 degree apartment- HUZZAH!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why I Do What I Do

On Friday I had an experience that helped me remember why I teach. It truly can be one of the most rewarding careers on this planet! Today is the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and I got thinking on Friday that I really wanted to discuss that with my students. I also got an e-mail from a woman that works in the district asking for teachers to have their students write letters to soldiers so that they could send them in Christmas care packages. They often help boost morale of those men and women fighting in awful places.

I work at a Title 1 school. Many of these kids have day to day struggles that no kid should ever have to deal with. Family and personal situations that break my heart. For that reason, I thought it was important to talk with these kids about some of the things that they DO have to enjoy.

I began by asking them what they knew about what happened on September 11th. As they began sharing with me, I realized something that made me feel weird and old. These kids weren't even BORN when that event took place!!! So really, all that most of them knew was that there were these two buildings and airplanes crashed into them. None of them really had anymore detail than that. So I told them about how I was in eighth grade when it happened and how we watched it on the t.v.'s in the classroom and how we were all so scared of what was happening. We talked about who it was and how it was an act of hate. We talked about how many people lost loved ones. We talked about how people fought on one of the planes so that it wouldn't reach the terrorists' intended destination. We talked about the heroes.

The students were quiet. I had all 25 pairs of eyes on me (something that has never happened since the first day of school). I had hands raised that had never been raised voluntarily before. Everyone wanted to share. Everyone wanted to learn more.

And after all that, we talked about freedom. We talked about what it really meant to live in a free country. We talked about some of the things other kids in other countries don't get to do because they don't live in a country like ours. We even talked about how some kids don't get to go to school-- which at first, many of them responded with a "SWEET! No school!" But then we talked about what life would be like if they didn't go to school. They wouldn't be able to read... write.... communicate.... or get a chance to be what they want to be when they grow up. There was silence and then one boy quietly said... "Whoa. That would suck." Yeah, I know.

After talking about all the things they get to do in this country, I had them begin their letters to the soldiers- to thank them for fighting for our country. Here are a few quotes straight from these letters:

"Thank you for fighting for our country, it means a lot."
"What I do for freedom I play with my family, go outside, go to school, and go to church."
"You mean a lot to me because you make sure that the USA is in good hands."
"Thanks for fighting for our freedom and taking your time to do that."
"Freedom to me means being able to choose what to do: Going to church, going to school, being a bad guy or a good guy."
"I'm glad you were willing to leave your family. I can't be more grateful."
"Your work means so much to America."
"Thanks for protecting our state."
"My freedom means a lot to me because if we didn't have freedom, we could be slaves and that would be horrible."
"I'm glad I can go to school and get educated and smart because in some countries girls can't go to school."
"Let me just say again thank you so much. I could just hug you."

They were so sincere! And kind! And for some of these kids who come from really tough homes, kindness and sincerity are a rarity.

Perhaps you are reading this and wondering what was really so great about this moment, but I think if you've ever been a teacher of any kind, you know what this meant. To help kids learn to be grateful and to see the good in themselves and others is just a special thing to be able to do. And for that, I AM GRATEFUL.

So forgive me for the long post that may have meant nothing to you. But I need to record moments like these. Because it is moments like these that help me get up at 6:00 in the morning and stay on the go until 6:00 at night (and sometimes later).

This is why I do what I do.