Tuesday, August 11, 2015

First Day of School Stories - the Good, the Bad, and the Funny!

Oh boy, the school year is just around the corner - and for many of you school has already started. My blogging buddies and I have decided to post some back to school stories to let you know that you are not alone as you tackle a new year of kindergarten! 

I'm getting the back-to-school itch that comes after summer vacation - my dining room table is heaped with fresh borders, a new treat jar, and binders of new sensory bin activities. I can't wait to get into the classroom! And by the way - I'll be teaching kindergarten at a different school this year. I applied to move buildings after teaching for 11 years in the same room, and I was hired to work at a school down the road from my old one (same district). I'm totally freaking out because the school is still under construction and I literally have over 100 boxes to open and unpack...and I've never even stepped foot in my classroom. Besides all that, it's time to think about what "Back to School" means for me.

The Good!

Every year I get to start fresh - I love using the summer to dream up ideas about how to make my classroom more student friendly. I have had so much time off that I've been able to prepare huge amounts of sensory bin activities. I have the amazing year-long set from Marsh over at Differentiated Kindergarten. See her set below:
Marsha McGuire from Differentiated Kindergarten 
My fingers might have almost fallen off after all the cutting and laminating and cutting, but my students are going to love the new games I have prepared for them. My goal is to move away from "worksheets" and add in more hands-on literacy centers. I have this Lakeshore sensory table with the two compartments and my students love it. I hope to see it be used every day!

I bought this train table used at a garage sale and painted the top with chalk paint. I can't wait to make it a fun center too! I plan on converting it (by filipping over the top to the opposite side into dinosaur land). I bought moss, rocks, and have some little logs and a volcano to make it a fun place for the dinosaur toys to roam. See - I finally got smart and realized that the dinosaurs needed a place to play - instead of stomping on the lovely dollhouse and rawring at the family inside. 
My students love to play and when they enter my room on the first day I always have lots of things to keep them busy. I put out pattern blocks, unifix cubes, and soft stuffed animals. Playing is so important because most kids will jump right in and play. I'm so glad I'm adding these new finds to my classroom.

The Bad!
Well, recess is one of the times that teachers enjoy at the beginning of the year - it is a time when everyone gets to take a break - well usually! Last September on the first day of school I had a student who was ready to test boundaries. Instead of running to line up at the end of recess (which we practice before setting the kindergarteners loose) she stood about 100 feet behind everyone else. I called her by name to line up and she backed up every time I called out her name. As I approached her to escort her to line she started sprinting away. Well, thankfully I have an aide who is a young and healthy fella - I called to him - and said don't let her escape - run and go get her. Meanwhile I had to holler to the other teachers on the playground to have the one holding the with the walkie talkie radio for backup because "we have a runner." Out of the office comes our behavior specialist jogging in his sneakers. The "chase" ended when the child was met on the opposite side by the playground. Oh boy!  For the first week of school I had to approach this child and hold her hand before the whistle was blown so I could bring her in by holding her hand. And hey, by the end of the year this sweetie was a role-model for following the rules and routines of the class. So my tip to you is - wear comfortable shoes on the first day of school. You never know when you might have to practice your Olympic sprinting!

Another story of something gone wrong was when we were making these adorable first day of kindergarten crowns. You can grab them free from "My Heart Belongs in Kindergarten."
Well, we cut out our crowns and glued them to sentence strips. Then we got ready for lunch. A little guy in my class ran to the front and took cuts in line. I walked him to his seat and told him he would have to try lining up again without running. Well, as he waited he took a pencil to his headband and wrote some legible profanities - I didn't notice them until we were in the cafeteria. I had to confiscate his precious crown and let him know that that kind of language was clearly unacceptable! There's nothing like having to say, "You can't say or write XXXX XXX at school. It's not very nice!" But hey, I learned that he could already write some CVC words and knew a sight word! :)

The Funny!
What's more funny than bathroom humor? Well, kindergarteners and the bathroom! I got the great idea of adding these vinyl targets to the insides of the toilets to give the boys something to aim at (instead of the constant misses and messy floor). Before school started I ordered my little targets from an Etsy shop like LilMrsCrafty's shop. I stuck them to the insides of the toilets and when school began I showed the children the restroom and told them to aim for the target. 
I had a little boy who was crying and very upset a little later in the day - he didn't want to go to lunch, but I knew that he was super excited for school because I met him at open-house with his mother the night before. So during lunch I called his mom and told her he was upset. She said she would come down to school and see what was wrong. The family is bilingual and the child had limited English. When his mother came to school he told her that there was a monster in the bathroom and he was afraid of it. After thinking for a bit I realized that he might be afraid of the target. I took his mom to our class bathroom and explained that the target was for the little boys to aim at when going to the bathroom. Her child told her he thought it was the eye of a monster looking at him. Oh man, I felt so bad - my new target was mistaken for a monster's eye! His mom laughed and explained to him in his first language what it was for and he calmed right down. In the end we all ended up laughing together and going about the day.

Later that week we read the story Where the Wild Things are and we made a monster craft. My teaching team kept teasing me that I was trying to scare my students with all the "monsters." I've always said that in order to teach kindergarten you have to have a sense of humor. I hope these stories have given you a little chuckle. If you want to read some more stories hop on over to my blogging buddies sites and read on!

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