Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I wasn't with my class today. I feel so rejuvenated after spending a day with my grade level team! Every 6 weeks we are given a release day to plan together at a nearby coffee shop. We are diligent in using our time wisely and I always end the day feeling so inspired by the people I work with. My school is heavy on collaboration and I am endlessly grateful for it. I am only in my second year of teaching and am pushed/supported within my ZPD by those around me.
What I was greeted with when I came back to my room was RG with a nonchalant "Oh, hi Ms. Estrada." She normally stays with me after school for my reading intervention club, and I was so happy to see a smiling face with the guest teacher in my class. My room was spotless, the guest teacher told me I had a nice class and left in a hurry. "How was your day with the guest teacher?" "It was good! Well, she said a bad word." Ms. A (who was with me) and I were intrigued, and pressed her. "It's okay, she apologized." We left it at that and commented how everyone makes mistakes. After RG's mom came to get her, I heard from a Kindergarten teacher that one of my students went to the principal to complain about the teacher using a bad word. Turns out the projector was taking a long time to warm up (I'm sure she was greeted with a few impulsive students whining "I can't seeeeeee") and she said that "sh" word, as ZK described it to me. At least she wasn't swearing AT them. Meh, it happens. I certainly feel I have done with...things like rubbing my face in my hands and groaning right in front of my students. I am not proud of some of my lowest moments, but I would never ever swear AT my students, and neither did the guest teacher. I'm also extraordinarily careful about my words, but I'm accustomed to being around first graders every day. Just an example for my students about how everyone makes mistakes, and we can all learn from them.
I'm excited to be back with them tomorrow. Even just being there for five minutes this morning, they gave me a group hug and I felt so incredibly lucky to have such a sweet group of students. They may drive me bonkers, and I may make them angry at times, but we really look out for eachother. I think my students have eachother's backs even if they bicker like none other at times. Like I always tell them, my heart is growing every time I see them be kind to one another. Today, my heart grew with the comfort and joy I felt just to see them. It was like taking a deep breath and letting it go...working hard all day, feeling productive, then letting go a little bit when I saw these little children who are such a large part of my life. It was like running into an old friend--how silly that must sound, but seeing them warmed me. I'm excited for tomorrow and getting down to the business of first grade-- love love love and every once in a while "sit, sit, sit, STOP, okay now we're ready."
I have been so bad about reading my students' writing other than in writing conferences lately... so yesterday I took a little sampling at their masterpieces...mind you, I am not a good writing teacher (yet). I'm still learning how to best combine the wonderful Lucy Calkins with the ideas of Lisa my students explicit grammar and mechanics writing instruction along with the freedom to just write write write write, and to be honest, I haven't done the best or most diligent job. I am also NOT an expert at teaching handwriting...clearly...but here is what my students are producing...and I have to say I am happy with their ability to put their ideas down on paper.

AC in November: "I am pretty."

 AC now: "My mom, she said if I finish my homework I will get a big big big big big big big surprise." Love love love her use of long vowel spellings and spelling her sight words correctly. This was my lowest student at the beginning of the year.

 LOVE EM's spelling of excited! And cayke! YAY long vowels! :)

Here is my one of my only non English Learners..ZK...notice the great spelling. (I didn't do that, he's just a great speller and an incredibly smart learner.)
NG's spelling of hide and go seek makes me so incredibly happy. It's that one happyallinonebreath spelling that evokes the excitement of the game.

Please keep in mind 90% of my students are English Language Learners and are new to English. 90% of my students speak Spanish at home. The others speak African American Vernacular, and one speaks Cambodian and English. They all speak English at school, but all but 3 are bilingual.

When I look at teaching blogs, I see lots of perfect handwriting and impeccable grammar. My students are not there, but I am warmed to near tears when I read their writing. I can READ IT--they are expressing themselves on paper--and laughing, chatting, and helping eachother as they do so--what more could I ask for?

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