One Sunflower

inspirational speech from diapered key note

The high school library was abuzz with conversation, it was the first gathering of all the teachers for the traditional “kick-off” speech by the superintendent. We settled into our seats ready for his traditional power point which is usually a combination of data snap, whip crack, and poetry – he is a good writer.

But what a surprise to find him beginning his presentation with video of his two-year old twin grandsons.  Apparently he and his daughter tried all weekend long to coach them into saying “hello teachers”  but instead the boys would yell out “hello papa.”  So they gave up.  But all their prompting got those little boys thinking about going back to school, (they attend the birth to three classroom on site in the high school,) and they began pretending they were getting ready for the bus.

The camera was turned back on and our district staff was treated to a delightful clip that begins with one of the boys standing by the door in diapers, opening and closing it saying  “school bus, time for school.”  Finally he opens the door all the way and heads into the bright sunlight and his brother comes running across the room calling “wait for me!” and they and the dog head out the door.

Let’s keep the excitement going!!


breaking ground

Twenty five years ago this month, my husband and I were part of a Self-Help Home building group, ten families building ten homes.  We came to the first meeting at the property sites with a rag-tag collection of tools. What we didn’t have in equipment was surely made up for with our enthusiasm and passion;  these were our own homes we were building!  While we were able to fulfil our tool needs with a trip to the hardware store, we could never have completed the job, nearly 12 months later, without the guidance of a site supervisor and lessons on house building as we went along.

I feel like last week was similar to that first visit to my housing site.  I came to the first professional development meetings with my tool box half stocked. I’ve taken a look at the blueprints, made some suggestions for changes and am now ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

This is what is going on in my house this year:
As part of my alliance with other Head Start teachers in our coalition, I will be working to apply our newly adopted guidelines on writing in front of and with my students.  The guidelines are similar to what I was doing last year but my learning edge this year will be in improving the conferring I do with individual students and making sure those notes are part of the student journals.

My work with Pre-K to grade 3 alignment will focus on the structures I put in place to promote student access and achievement towards the goals outlined in our “safety net,” the standards we feel are most essential for each grade level. Grade level teams will meet to review and support each other and then our primary team will come together in October to share out and set new goals.

All of these goals nest well with the over arching district goal of focusing on assessment.  I missed the meeting where teachers set up their own cycles of inquiry but my wheels are turning and I’m sure I’ll have a document ready soon.

So I don’t quite have four walls framed but the cement has been poured.  Pete the Cat is ready to meet my students and my Fountas & Pinnell text is full of sticky notes. My principal has quipped that you eat an elephant one bite at a time. I’m glad I’m not doing all of this work by myself.

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My school building is buzzing with teachers unpacking boxes, pushing stuff in and out of cupboards, running the copier and laminator non-stop.   Five of us are in new rooms this year. 

The kindergarten teacher and I switched rooms this summer so it’s kind of fun to see what is happening in one anothers space.  We bring different priorities to the design of our spaces, some based on student need, some on our personal needs or desires.   I try to create tons of desk space because I have to be in and out of three different boxes of hanging files every day.   So I take over the counters in the student computer center – since I don’t have computers for my preschoolers.

My old room had one small set of windows by the back door.  When Judi,  the kindergarten teacher, was making plans for how she was going to set up her classroom, she said, “I’ve got to have my reading group table by those windows, I need light.”

Her old room – which is my new room –  has two walls of windows, double the amount of my old room!  My first thought about setting up student space was about which center areas I would put next to the windows to maximize student access to light:  art, blocks, dramatic play, the library, hard to choose!

my old room, now Judi's

The best thing I can say about creating my classroom space is that I’m almost done!  Judi worked all summer and her room is gorgeous.  I’ve been working steadily for about 10 days to catch up.  The furniture is in place, now I need to get stuff on the shelves and color up the walls.

my new room