Morning Meditation

Today I woke up late. Disappointment.

6:50 a.m. The alarm didn’t go off.

I am a set the alarm early, stumble to the kitchen kind of gal.

But not today.

I felt cheated by time and circumstance;

My professional development session would start in 70 minutes leaving 50 minutes to get ready and 20 minutes of drive time.

I am not a jump out of bed and hit the shower kind of gal.

I like my mornings to unfold slowly. I like to…

boil the water in the tea kettle, five minutes, pour it over the dark grounds in the French press, stir…

Ease my still half asleep body into my reading chair, check social media on my phone and wait for the coffee to steep. Three more minutes.

I give my body permission to sink deep into the spacious, leather chair,

Inhale one, two, sip long and slow, pause, savor, exhale three, four.

60 sweet succulent minutes sipping and reading a succulent book selection.

This is my morning meditation.

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My Teacher is a Monster

I love this picture book written by Peter Brown. It helps that I met him at the Michigan Reading Association Annual Conference in Grand Rapids this past March. Every time I read the book I fall in love all over again. I love Peter Brown’s wry humor. I think his dedication page sums it all up. He writes: “To misunderstood teachers and their misunderstood students”. In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Bobby and his teacher, Ms. Kirby. We come to understand Bobby’s problem on the first page. His big problem is Ms. Kirby. Over the pages of quirky illustrations we learn all about Ms. Kirby through her actions towards Bobby. She is a monster. Literally and figuratively. She is green, has a large over sized mouth full of jagged teeth, and she roars at Bobby. He is terrified of her. Peter Brown has drawn Bobby very tiny. This mirrors how Bobby feels in Ms. Kirby’s presence. Ms. Kirby could be described as rude, mean, crass. Then one day, the worse thing ever happens to Bobby. He runs in to her in the park. He wants to disappear. If you’ve ever run in to your teacher in the grocery store, this might be how you feel. If, on the other hand, you are a teacher and you’ve run into one of your students in the grocery store you probably did not meet his expectations of you either. Bobby and Ms. Kirby are each transformed over the course of their morning together in the park. Back at school, however, Ms. Kirby was the same teacher as always. Only different. Pick up a copy of this book at your library or local book seller. You’ll be charmed as I am.

The illustrations are

My greatest challenges are my greatest successes.

Today I had my final observation and evaluation. With only four days left of the school year for my Young Fives, I am very relieved to able to check that off my list. One of the questions my principal posed to me as part of the post observation reflection was, “What have been your greatest successes this year?” I now realize that my biggest challenges this year are now my biggest successes. I have a few kiddos who were on positive behavior plans for a good part of the year. They have each been able to consistently meet their behavior targets and graduated from the plans. Each time, I celebrated with them. I am so proud of their successes!

I have worked very hard to create a positive environment in which the kids feel they have control and responsibility. They know our promises and they know how to solve problems with their words. They also know that they have the freedom to make mistakes. When a child says they made a mistake I will say, “Is it okay to make mistakes in Young Fives?” and they will echo “Yes, it’s how we learn!” I want them to know they can take risks and make mistakes.

Listening and following directions has been a real challenge this year and I think they have made a lot of progress. I use songs for this. I have also been doing a “craft activity” to give them practice for following directions. I go over the steps – draw pictures, they volunteer to restate the steps, and then they have a visual to refer to.

At the beginning of the year I met with the three Kindergarten teachers and they gave me a list of the things they most want for incoming Kindergartners:

  1. Follow 2 step directions
  2. Taking turns & raising hand to talk
  3. Speaking
  4. Fine motor skills such as cutting, tracing, and coloring in the lines.

I have put my focus on these things as well as Establishing classroom rules, routines, and procedures and involving students in designing routines and using classroom meetings to review rules and procedures and solve problems. I feel that this has been very successful! My little classroom has become such a positive, strong community. I hate to let them go on to Kindergarten but they are ready!