Thursday, December 16, 2010

Broken Brain

Today at Kumon one of my students was just guessing at the sentences, instead of reading them. When I reassured him that he knew the words and if he looked at them he could read it he replied with, "but Mrs. Brandi, my brain is broken!". When I asked him why it was broken he said he had been thinking so hard to do all the homework (he had neglected to do it for some time and had twice as much as normal) that it broke and now he "just can't think anymore".

It took all my effort not to smile in front of him. I understand the 'broken brain' feeling. It happened often when I was in college. When I had been studying or writing a paper for so long that my head hurt. You know that feeling. So I composed myself and looked into this darling little preschooler's eyes and said, "I can help you fix it". "You can?" he said with much doubt. "Yes, we just need to change your batteries" His face lit up. We stood up, wiggled a little then sat back down.

He got right to work reading his sentences. Right before he left he turned to me and said, "Mrs. Brandi, does my brain take double A batteries or triple A batteries?" I told him I wasn't sure because we didn't have to take them out. He smiled and left.

Oh, the joys of the little moments!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sub Notes

Up until today I have had teachers leave very detailed sub notes to where everything was, what work we were to do as a class, etc. Today, however, was quite different.

I went into today knowing it would be an interesting day. I subbed for a special education teacher who goes into several classes to offer assistance to students in inclusion classrooms. While these students are in their least restrictive environment as a student, I found today that often their social skills are lacking in comparison to their peers.

Today I came into the classroom and saw the schedule with the classroom numbers, the students names I am to assist, and the times I am to be there. All in all, that was fine.

In several classrooms I worked with students individually or in small groups to provide them with the needed RTI time. While I have knowledge of RTI and the various tiers, I was not familiar with all of the programs and books that they were using with the students. My instructions for this included a post it that said the time of day I was to use it and what page number. Thank goodness the students are used to the program, because they deviated from the book in most situations-something that was not explained.

As stated before, the schedule had room numbers on it. This would have been great if the room numbers were on the doors to the classrooms, or the names of the teachers on the schedule, but this was not the case. The classrooms had numbers, but they did not match what was on my schedule. I ended up asking students and teachers where my next class to go to was, because I've only been in a select few classrooms in that school. I felt all day long I was relying on other teachers to tell me what students I needed to work with and where classrooms were. I was consistently having to question the students on procedures for the various programs and how many pages in the book they do. I felt more like an intruder than a help to the school and students. While everyone was happy to help me out, I felt like my level of athority within the students' viewpoint was compromised and I was at their mercy.

I could understand if I got called in this morning because a teacher was unexpectedly ill. However, this was not the case. I had planned to sub for this teacher since last week, plenty of time for her to write up notes on what I should do throughout the day.

At the end of the day how do I write a note to this teacher telling about the day? I wrote what we did in the RTI groups and apologized if this was not what she had planned. But what else was I do do? When the principal popped in to chat during my 'plan time' I did my best to show enthusiasm. But all in all, today was more frustrating than it should have been.

If nothing else, I gained a greater appreciation for teachers that leave detailed sub notes, and now know where the rooms are, should I ever need to sub for this particular teacher again.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Still Learning

Some things that I learned/ learned again in the classroom this week:

1. Time to wiggle is essential for pre-kindergardeners.
2. Pre-kindergardeners have a difficult time saying Criminger. It often comes out as Criminer or Riminer.
3. Second graders can be both helpful and deceitful. It is good to have more helpful ones in the classroom, as they point out the craftiness of the others.
4. I am constantly being observed (both by the students and by neighboring teachers).
5. Children still draw mustaches on the pictures of those that aren't their closest friends.
6. Something as simple as a marker line on a picture can hurt feelings and stir up a need for revenge.
7. Even at age 7, students still need to be told to put their coats on and zip them up when it is below freezing outside.
8. It doesn't matter how many times I see it, the 'ah, ha' moment still makes me smile.
9. Every classroom and group of students is different.
10. I came from a small town and a part of me will always feel at home in a small school, like I grew up in.