Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why I Teach

Lately there is a lot in the news about how tough it is to be a teacher, and how veterans are telling others that "It's not worth it to become a teacher". Union drama... school board issues....common core...DIBELS... standardized testing... evaluations...salary ! It is a lot, and it is STRESSFUL, this year more than ever I am stressed . The 1st/2nd split is AWESOME beyond compare for my kiddos, but it is crazy stressful for me. In spite of all that I don't think I would ever give it up, or encourage  a young aspiring teacher to do the same because IT IS WORTH IT! Last week one of my littles learned to cross his mid-line... he can count by fives while bringing his knees up and touching them with his opposite hand!! We've been working on that all year, and my whole class was sooooo excited for him! On Sunday I spent three hours sitting in a Russian church service because I was invited by one of my kiddos who was singing and reciting poetry in honor of Russian Thanksgiving (her part was thirty minutes max...and all in Russian). I left with a tummy full of yummy Russian food, a plate full of Russian dessert (to share with the other teachers), and a heart full of love because she was so excited that I came that she could barley contain herself. She came to me straight from Russian immersion last October, and is one of my super seven second graders . Her growth this past year is all I need for all the stress, and drama to be worth it. This is a narrative she wrote this week.  I did a cut and paste straight from her Google folder so you can see how amazing she is. It's not perfect, but here is why IT IS WORTH IT...

First when I was at school I was at level 2 and then I was at level 10.After that I got a priz. Then I was so so SO excited because I was at level 20 my mom was so impresst and so was Ms.C.

By S

P.S. I just had to get this off my chest, but check back tomorrow and I'll add pictures !

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Saying Chiao to the Chairs

This year I decided to throw caution to the wind and do something out of the box  crazy innovative, okay so it's a little bit crazy! I got rid of ALL the chars in my classroom. I know it's shocking, but I felt like it was best for all of us.

The idea started brewing last summer when my principal mentioned that when he taught first grade he lowered all the desks as far as they wold go and everybody sat on the floor. I couldn't see that working for me but it really got me thinking! When I really thought about how my kids really like to position themselves to work chairs made no sense at all, so I seriously started to consider my options.Then I saw another blog post (which I have since lost and can't find again darn it) where  a teacher had tons of tables at different heights.  I knew I would never be able to get enough tables so I decided to create table like groupings that we call pods by turning the desks around and adjusting them to matching heights.

First we have the most typical pod we call it the stool pod or the Ikea pod since the stools came from Ikea.

We don't use the inside of the desks either, so we have supply tubs on each pod for easy access.

The supply bins also came from Ikea! I just love Ikea

Ignore the first day of school mess in the background. Rest assured the supplies are now sorted and put away

They sometimes tip on the stools a little but not nearly as much as they did in chairs!

The next pod is called the kneeling pod. I was always getting after my kids for kneeling on their chairs which is not super safe so I decided to make it possible for them to kneel in a safe acceptable way by putting comfy pillows on the floor for them to kneel on.

Yes the pillows are also from Ikea!
You can see more supply tubs in the background.
We have tubs for our iPads, book bags and head phones on the counter.

The next pod is the T-stool pod. They're great for wigglers and kiddos who need to work on core strength. 

You can buy these online, but they are expensive!!
So I bribed my friend's handy husband to make these for me with free baby sitting. One night per stool!
The pink and black bins in the background have clipboards in them so kids can also choose to sit around the room if they want to be on their back or belly!

The final pod (and my FAVORITE) is the standing pod! I always had kids who never sat down. Their chairs were always behind them. I was fine with the standing, but I got really sick of everyone tripping over the chairs! Now they can stand up with out endangering life and limb.

Now I will try to answer questions I know people will ask...

1. No I do not assign seats. They choose freely throughout the day and even move multiple times during a lesson.

2. Yes they chat but they would do that even in assigned seats. If it gets bad they have to make another choice, or get a folder thing we call an office.

3. Surprise!! They don't fight over spots. There are so many choices that nobody cares if they have to pick another spot because one pod is full.

4. Yes, people think I'm crazy, and no I don't care :) One lady in my hall told me flat out that I was crazy!

5.Yes! It is working like a dream! Behavior is better and there is a very healthy feel to the room in a sort of physical way.

6. Yes, they LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it (as does every other kids who comes into my room) I'm always hearing "I wish I was in your class!!"

Added benefits:

This set up also makes clean up a breeze I can teach right up until five minutes before the bell and we just grab and go.

It is so easy to keep clean that you wouldn't believe it! 

Feel free to message me with any questions you have about how this works!