One Sunflower

just a few thank-you’s

My inservice work this year has been more extensive than years past.  I am doing work with community early childhood partners as well as with my colleagues in my school district.  It has been exhausting but fulfilling.  I still have another week to go but here are my thank yous to those professionals who have planned the work this year.  I am benefiting from your summer of thinking and shared wisdom:

Thank you to Tara and Kim, two women who not only bring the energy of their youth, (both under 30!,)  but also considerable coaching expertise to our staff as we learn new tools to strengthen and evaluate teacher effectiveness.

Thank you to Janice, a Native American woman who brings her quiet voice and occasional requests for us to be still in our work.

Thank you to Douglas, a health professional with a background of working with families at risk, who is pushing us to incorporate more math and science into our nutrition and healthy practice lessons, and to meet families where they are.

Thank you to Kristine, who used a volleyball game with balloons to break up our day as well as remind us of what we already know: we are trying to keep a lot of balls in the air while occasionally encountering barriers (the ceiling) and changes (popped balloons.)

Thank you to my closest co-workers, who might roll their eyes every once in awhile but in the end  listen and have valuable contributions to the process.

Thank you to my friend, Deanna, who, despite being newly retired, still wants to hear about it all.

And thank you to my mom, an ex-schoolteacher, who takes me “school shopping” to celebrate her September birthday because she knows its fun to start the year as though its new even if so much is the same-old, same-old.


breaking it down

I volunteered to meet with a teacher friend of mine and her newly hired co-worker, to do a sort of mini-training on the way I get my students involved in story writing. I’m excited to do this; it helps me think about my work and I always learn something from someone else’s questions.

So I spent this past weekend going through my lesson plans, photos and samples of kid-work I kept from last year and I’m breaking my process down, thinking carefully about what I’ll be doing this year and why.

That’s the most important question.  If I came name the “why,” it will lead me to the what and the how.



“I hear ________ is going to be in your class next year, good luck!”

Sometimes I hear this in May, sometimes not until July or August, but I can guarantee that at some point between one school year and the next, someone will say these words to me about a child coming into my classroom. You know the kind of kid this sentence references: a child who requires extra attention.  Often I hear words like these from the teachers of the birth-to-three class or the special ed teacher because a challenging student of theirs in graduating into my class.  Occasionally I hear this kind of comment from a teacher or neighbor who is acquainted with a sibling or family of one of my new students.  Whatever the source and whatever challenges the speaker might have in mind, the words are a reminder to me to be prepared for all of my students.

This fall, I only have three returning students to my class of seventeen. While half of my students are usually four-year-olds,  it looks like I am going to have more three-year-olds than usual.   This means I might have children who are only recently potty trained or not at all. There might be other self-care issues my students lack practice in such as putting on coats and shoes and feeding oneself with utensils.  For some children, this might be their first experience away from their parents or playing in a group. I usually have about 80% who don’t have English as their home language.   Preschool can be an overwhelming and bewildering experience.

Warning received, reminder acknowledged… to brass tacks.

I need to plan for first days and weeks that allow my aide and I to be available to comfort, clothe and feed as well as take more time in the bathroom.  We’ll need to provide for pressure free transitions as we move from bus to cafeteria to classroom and allow for lots of lap time.  I need to think carefully about word choice and the length of my sentences when giving instructions.  I need to speak slowly.  I need to smile and laugh and touch.

Of course there will also be those students who are ready and eager for everything preschool has to offer; I want to plan for them too, creating a routine with clear and reasonable expectations,  plenty of opportunities to explore and play, fostering intimacy so we get to know each other. There are plans I can put on paper, but mostly there is an awareness I need to keep alive in my head, my heart, and my hands, to fully support all my students as they begin or return to preschool.