Posted tagged ‘Kindergarten’

Let Me Tell You About My Day…..

January 15, 2011

The television goes on first thing in the morning at our house.  It generally plays in the background as we get ready for the day.  We get the weather report and road conditions in between showers and toothbrushes.  This is important when you live in an area that fluctuates between snow and ice and nothing at all in the winter.  My son always has an ear out for the sports reports and my daughter has an ear out for nothing at all.  Unless there are snow day reports.  Current events spill over and catch my ear while I am throwing together a lunch.  This morning, however, I was stopped in my tracks.

There were reports about the Saturday shooting in a Tucson shopping center…..about the victims….and the shooter.   A nine-year old girl born on 9/11 was one of those killed.  Portions of Congressional Rep. Gabby Gifford’s skull were being removed to accommodate the swelling of her brain – a residual effect from the bullet that tore through her head. 

There was a lump in my throat.

Opened up my school mail as soon as I got to work.  There was a message about a second grader – an occasional student of mine and younger brother of a student I see regularly – beginning treatment for lymphoma over the weekend.  Teachers and parents were banding together to provide meals for the family while mom is holed up in the hospital with her hockey loving youngest.  I checked the schedule and they seemed to be covered.  A seven year old dealing with chemotherapy and its after effects.

There was a lump in my throat.

Third graders are generally very talkative in the morning.  They want to share everything….especially if they haven’t seen you in a while.  Since I see my classes just once a week, I am always prepared for the onslaught of weekend news when the third graders come into the computer lab on Mondays.   And I wasn’t disappointed.  There were haircuts and skiing excursions to hear about.  And trips to the movies.  As the class was settling down and logging in to their computers, a round-faced cherub was going on and on about the video game he had played with his dad all weekend.  And how very good he was at it.  The game?  Halo Reach.

Now, I have a 16-year-old who has played the game.  I have kept a blind eye to it because I know that his gaming preference mostly leans toward the sports genre – hockey, football and golf.  I know that the Halo series is science fiction and about super soldiers battling aliens.  I know that kids know that its not real.  But its a ‘first person shooter’ type game. When you play it, you see the barrel of the gun as you aim……and ‘you’ shoot.  To kill.   To blow things up.  Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Halo:

The series has been praised as being among the best first person shooters on a video game console and are considered the Microsoft Xbox’s ‘killer app”.  This has led to the term ‘Halo killer’ being used to describe console games that aspire, or are considered, to be better than Halo. Fueled by the success of Halo: Combat Evolved, and immense marketing campaigns from publisher Microsoft, its sequels went on to break various sales records.  The games have sold over 34 million copies worldwide, and all Halo merchandise has grossed more than $1.7 billion.

Billion? 

Seriously?

 For a game?

And this is what we invent to entertain ourselves with?

There was a serious lump in my throat.

When I opened my email, I found an update from a group that my family supports on a monthly basis – Compassion International.   The email was an update about their work in Haiti – a country still struggling to come back from a devastating earthquake, cholera and famine.  I had gotten another report from another group over the weekend telling about the frustrations with providing housing for the slum dwellers still living in tents.  This email was a letter of thanks – for support and prayers and money – for aid in CI’s continuing work in Haiti.  Pictures flooded my brain of children and adults living under blue tarps with winter weather underway.  Of kids crowding into school desks  just so they can learn anything at all and get at least one meal a day.  Of hospitals and clinics flooded with feverish patients….who were dying.  Of women risking rape as they go in search of food….and water.

All the while – not so very far away – third graders are playing Halo. 

There was a lump in my throat.

And my day went on, the lump softened somewhat.  There were mundane tasks and things to do.  Basketball practice.  Dinner.  Homework to oversee.

But the lump was still there.

The kind of lump that gives you fleeting moments of despair.  Of children playing games pretending to shoot and kill and blow up.  Of nine year olds being shot alongside the public mentor she might of chosen to be like.  Of seven year olds struggling with cancer.   Of  frustration for what the future actually holds.

For all of us.

And then I logged onto my Facebook to check in with family and friends as I usually do in the evenings.  Suddenly, all of my cares and frustrations and worries melted away as I read this tidbit about this delicious, penguin loving,  just turning six-year-old daughter of a friend.

   “…….. is sitting with the cutest little ballerina girl who is writing a “To-Do” List for Dr. Marfa Lutha King, Jr. Day. “We read a book all about him in library today, mommy. He was a good man that wanted people to be safe & good to one another.”   Her little to do list involved taking down the Christmas decorations and putting up things about people getting along, and making snacks to share and other such almost 6 year old trappings.

So, as long as we still teach about and think about  – and hold true – the ideals of ‘Dr. Marfa Lutha King, Jr.’….

……all will be well in my world.

I hope.

Amen.

Martin Luther King Day Memory

January 18, 2010

Its not mine.  It actually happened in a Kindergarten classroom next to mine about 20 years ago.  I changed the names but you will get the situation.  Its my favorite MLK Day story….ever.

My teaching partner was trying to explain to her class about what the world was like when Martin Luther King Jr. was growing up.  She talked about discrimination in a way that five year olds could understand.  She explained that certain people were not allowed to ride the bus, could not attend the schools they wanted to and couldn’t even drink out of the same drinking fountains as other people.  They had to use different bathrooms and sit in special seating sections at restaurants.  She explained that some people looked at people differently back then…..because their skin was a darker color.   They were treated that way because they were black.  One child piped up, “Oh, like Ben!”

Benjamin A. – whose mother was Black and whose father was East Indian – straightened immediately, a frown creasing his dark forehead and his brown eyes flashing. 

“I am not Black!” he retorted.

So Benjamin H. immediately dipped his red head and studied his freckled forearm with interest.

“Well, I must be then…..”

The Gold Star

January 29, 2009

     It was one of those interviews where you knew a line was being walked.  I had been laid off for two years and now recalled to an elementary school teaching position.  I was being interviewed by an unfamiliar principal.  A principal that I had been warned was not always up front with her feelings and views.  A principal who had been around for a good long while.  A principal who was very hung up on the fact that I have a hearing impairment.

     How did I feel that I could be a good role model in teaching Kindergarteners about letter sounds when I had a speech impediment?  Speech impediment?  And she asked it with a very pronounced lisp herself.  I remember being told by the personnel director that I would be working for her and telling him that she very nearly crossed the line with regard to handicap harassment by an employer.  It wasn’t something that I generally had concerns about but this one threw up a red flag.  He said not to worry but to make sure I keep in close contact with him in regards to the matter.  

    And so I began my Kindergarten Teaching career.  I was a nervous wreck….but not for long.   Once she saw how I taught and I saw how she appreciated creative approaches, everything was fine.  She would come into your classroom, unannounced, sit in the back and watch, leaving a handwritten note on some kind of interesting note paper and then quietly leave.  When it came time to read your professional evaluation, bits and pieces of those observations were always included.  And I still have all of those notes. 

She would bring total strangers, prospective  parents etc. into your classroom unannounced as well.  I remember once I had reeled out a long piece of butcher paper and my Kindys were stepping in paint and walking the length of it as part of a Language Arts project.  I was mortified at the mess we were making and flustered and blustered my way through the conversation.  She thought it was hilarious and sang my praises to the people she was with.  One time – on ‘W’ day – I had real worms, rubber worms and gummy worms in various activities around the room.   She stuck around for most of the morning on that day just to see what the heck else I was going to do with a worm.  Her note said that my ‘W Day’ activities were ‘Wierd’ and ‘Wonderful.’

She never failed to make me feel like I was being given a big gold star for my work.  At least that was true if she liked you.  There were lots that couldn’t deal with her.  But I, fortunately, had become one of her favorite teachers.  She said so…all the time.

She was only my administrator for two and a half years.  She retired mid year and moved out of state.  She never really tried to keep in touch much.  And for some odd reason she had given me a small metal frog before she left.  Not sure why.  I still have it.  Kept it on my desk for years and years.  And today I thought about it alot.

     Julie Sajo died this week….somewhere in Kansas after a lengthy illness.  She gave me a priceless gift when I needed it the most.  She gave me acceptance and pride and permission to be ‘wierd’ and ‘wonderful’ in my classroom…something I hope I have never lost.