Those people I'm related to

My whole family (parents and siblings) were all together for Thanksgiving - it was the first time in THREE YEARS we were all in the same place!!

Here are some highlights:

Going out for gingerbread ice cream (We love Braums!)

We hung out at the Stock Yards

I pretended I had something to do with cooking the Thanksgiving meal (when in reality it was my husband who cooked for 8 hours!!)

And we ate LOTS of turkey!

I hope your time off was STUFFED with good times too! 
(haha, see what I did there?)


Hello friends, I'm back from a week off from blogging. I had a fabulous Thanksgiving and I'm looking forward to sharing more about it later in the week, but for now I'd like to pick up exactly where I left off.
As you might recall from the previous post, I had some wonderful Thanksgiving activities planned for Friday - mainly the Turkey Tracks recipe. When I got to school that day, I had an email from my principal stating that she needed me to be in an emergency behavior meeting with the parents of one of my first graders. It was good that we had this meeting, but the timing was all wrong. I pull my first graders from 9 to 11. The behavior meeting started at 9 and didn't end until 10:45.
So by the time I got back to my room, there was no time for Turkey Tracks.
But I still had hope for my Kindergarten group in the afternoon. At the last minute, we decided to join my colleague for a Thanksgiving video. I thought it was going to last for 30 minutes, but the movie took a little over an hour to finish. And.... any hope of making Turkey Tracks in the remaining 45 minutes was squashed when I had to do damage control for "Martha". Martha thought it would be great fun to kick me repeatedly in the shins, tear down my calendar board, and pour the ranch dressing from her snack over my table.
It was a very discouraging day. For the first time in seven years, the thing that is keeping me from having fun in the classroom ISN'T the administration, ISN'T the curriculum... it's the kids.
Here's to hoping things will only get better from here.....

My little turkeys

We are in full turkey mode here at school. And I love it! Doing seasonal stuff with my kindergartners and first graders is such a welcome break from our regularly scheduled programming.

We've read My First Thanksgiving and I'm No Turkey.

We've written a list of things that we're thankful for.

We had our Thanksgiving Music Program on Tuesday. (The kids were both hilarious and adorable!)

And today we're making Turkey Tracks! Except we're making them with peanut butter and straight pretzel sticks (because I'm not sure about how my picky eaters will handle chow mein noodles!)

It should be messy but FUN! I am especially excited because once today is over, I have the WHOLE BLESSED WEEK off for Thanksgiving! Do I hear an Amen? :)

Thanksgiving with Kids

I've been surfing around on Pinterest and came across so many fun ideas for Thanksgiving with kids!

So I thought I'd share my favorites:

Thanksgiving Placemat (via)

Fun snacks (via)

Printable kids activities (via)

Thanksgiving Skit (via)

Turkey Craft (via)

Fun Kids Decor Printables (via)

that final sound is kinda important

Last week, I was reading aloud The Stubborn Pumpkin to my first graders. In the story, a farmer tries to pull a stubborn pumpkin off the vine. He enlists the help of many people and animals. First his wife, then his daughter, then the cow, then the dog..... etc.

I paused after the cow came along to help and asked my students who they thought would come next. One little girl, who has trouble with the final "s", shouted:

"A HORE!!!!!!!!"

I knew what she meant. But what she meant and what it sounded like were two very different things, and I had to laugh!

Cue the picture taking

All week, the kindergartners have been practicing in the auditorium for the Thanksgiving Program. I've been there to help and assist (I'm so glad I'm not in charge of this thing!).

Let me tell you, it is quite a production to get 54 five-year olds to stand in the right place - even with tape. And then getting them to sing loudly, keep smiling, leave their neighbor alone, stop touching the stage curtains, and to watch the lead teacher for their cues.... practically impossible!

This is really one of those times that I have to leave my perfectionism aside and remember that they're going to be adorable - mistakes and all. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that the parents LOVE those cute and funny mistakes.

So on Tuesday when it's time for the Big Show, I'll just take a deep breath.... even when little David has his finger in his nose.

When Kids are blunt

More than anyone, kids tell it like it is.

Are you sporting a big angry zit today? You can be sure one of your students will ask you what "that big red thing" is on your face.

Wearing a new white necklace? Some kid may tell you that you look like Wilma Flintstone.

But sometimes kids can be quite ego boosting with their comments. Like every time I walk into the general education kindergarten classroom to pick up my kiddos for language arts. Without fail, I will hear a chorus of:

"I like your necklace!!!!!!"
"I like your earrings!!!!!!!"
"I like your boots!!!!!!!!!!"
"I like your shirt!!!!!!!!!!!"

And recently, after the chorus of praises had died down a little, Andrew piped up with:

So if you need a little self-esteem boost, go find a kindergarten classroom near you!

A Hopeful Monday

Friday was an easier day, partly because:

1. Marta punched me in the face on Thursday and was suspended on Friday.
2. My colleagues cheered me up with fresh flowers and a Starbucks gift card (!!)

I'm hoping today goes well. I have a new student starting today (my second in one week!) and a new table arrangement that seems promising for keeping two particular first graders (who like to feed off each other) out of each other's eyesight. I also have a shiny new behavior plan for one of my first graders... with walkie talkies and everything!!

So there's hope. I'm still feeling overwhelmed though. I'm now responsible for 12 students... that's MORE THAN HALF of all the of the students in our hearing impaired program.

I want to be able to do this. Do this well!

A perfectionist in the making

On Friday, just as I was about to leave, I got a call from the office.

It was 'Julie's' dad, and he wanted to talk about how she was doing since he missed Parent-Teacher Conferences.

Did I mention it was a Friday afternoon?
Did I mention he hadn't called ahead to schedule this?
Did I mention I send home my contact information EVERY week?

I went and talked to him anyway. Julie is my best and brightest. And I don't just mean in comparison to her peers with hearing loss, I mean in comparison to her general education peers. Her language level is very high. She outperformed all of her general education class on the math assessment.

I appreciate so much that her parents are so involved and proactive in working with her. But I sense that there's a lot of pressure on her to succeed. Dad barely heard me when I told her she was ABOVE grade level in language arts. He wanted a laundry list of things to drill her on at home.

When I told dad that when Julie grows up, she is going to SHINE, his only response was:

"She'd better."


student and teacher meltdowns

I'm having a hard time teaching in the morning. And by that I mean I have a collection of behavior issues in my first grade group that, when thrown in and mixed together, becomes this toxic poison.

Except this poison doesn't kill you, it just makes you want to retire from teaching at age 29.

I had four students in this group. I've recently added a fifth. On "Adam's" first day, Thing One argued with my every direction (or just flat out said "no"). Thing Two loves to feed off of Thing One and thought the whole thing was hysterical. Thing Two shut down when he got some sad face tally marks. Thing One laughed loud and long to show he didn't care about sad faces.

And Adam looked on.

When Thing Two didn't get his first choice of activity for Daily 5, he decided that the best solution was to hide under the table and intermittently shout "NO" .... for an hour! 

Folks, this exact same kind of behavior from those two students happened for THREE DAYS IN A ROW. For three days, Thing Two collapsed into a pile of refusal and I had to get another adult in there to entice him to move to his next class. Thing One continued to loudly protest every direction and every activity at every opportunity.

I did my best to teach despite it all.

I ended the week on Friday with Thing Two in full meltdown mode, yelling from his new hiding place:

Tell me ..... where can I hide from first grade?
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