Posts Tagged 'kindergarten'

A Sad Kindergartener on Halloween

pumpkin-312379_640By Parker Lawson – At this time of year, I love looking back at all the fun memories I had in the classroom as a kid.

Halloween especially was a time I could never forget. My elementary schools always went all out for Halloween. The teachers would decorate the classroom, and most of our curriculum had something to do with drawing pumpkins, writing about scarecrows, or counting ghosts.

Between the mummy wrapping contests, or the pumpkin beanbag toss, the Halloween parties were my favorite part of the school year. I loved it. Everything was so festive, and it made me even more excited to show off that Halloween costume I had been planning to show my friends for months. As I think of these fun times, a very distinct memory comes to mind…

I’ll never forget my kindergarten Halloween. Growing up with an older brother, I had always idolized him around Halloween time because I got to watch him in the all-school Halloween parade. I counted down the days until it was my time to walk around the school with all the classes and teachers dressed up to show the parents and siblings.

When my time finally came, I couldn’t have been more excited. I was in the morning half-day kindergarten class, and was itching to put my Snow White costume on that day. That morning, we were told to line up with our costumes on, and my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Kellner, would lead us down to the parade. While walking, I envisioned all the students waving to their parents outside, as we would make our way around the entire school. As Mrs. Kellner began walking, I noticed her leading us into our school’s tiny multipurpose/cafeteria. At first, I thought “Oh… just a detour! Perhaps Mrs. Kellner is hungry and needs a snack before the parade!”

Unfortunately, this was not the case. Because we were the morning kindergarten class, our parade was not at the same time as the rest of the school’s afternoon parade. My little Snow White heart had been broken. I had never been so disappointed. All of my kindergarten friends were content with the little circular path we had walked while waving to the 5 or 6 parents that showed up, but my high expectations had me in tears.

I was so confused, and all my little kindergarten brain could think about was, “The administration just hates the kindergarteners! I’m a big girl now, and deserve to be with the big kids!”

As I went home with a crushed heart, I’ll never forget the tears that were shed because of that silly parade… and neither will my Mom.

But I’m over it now… sort of.

The Transition in Perspective from City School Teacher to City School Parent

j0439367By Nick McDaniels – Today begins my 7th year in Baltimore City Schools after graduating from Marquette. I still love my job. I’m still improving. And I still have a lot to say about it.

But today is also my daughter’s first day of kindergarten in Baltimore City Schools. This will undoubtedly shape my experience as a teacher and will certainly shift my perspective on education in our city. She is attending a traditional public school in our neighborhood as I declined to participate in the charter school movement. That particular decision, for me, came from disappointment I felt as many “progressive” charter operators supported charter school de-unionizing legislation at the state level this past year. Thank goodness my kid does not have to go to a union-busting school!

When thinking about the issues that impact me as a teacher this year, few compare to the issues that will affect me as a parent over the coming school years. Over-testing is a burden on my conscience for me as a teacher, but will be a real, practicable burden on my child’s education. Discipline policies have had my mind and soul wrestling over recent years, but, until now, those policies have not impacted my child. Overcrowded classrooms have at times diminished my hope for real transformational education. Now my daughter gets to compete for the attention of a teacher and such a reality becomes even clearer for my family.

Despite these large-scale issues that befall our system, the good news for me is that I get to return this year to a stable high school, the largest in the district, and my daughter gets to attend one of our district’s best public schools led by a great principal and teachers. For that I am grateful.

I look forward to engaging myself now in anyway I can to assist the teachers who are trying to give my daughter the best education possible, just as I look forward to teaching the children of others as if they were my own. Now, though, that sentiment has a deeper meaning.

Making School a More Intimate Place For Kindergarteners

By Colleen Ryan — Being a five year old in a school of 847 students can be somewhat overwhelming.  Some of my students still get nervous when the bell rings during a bathroom break, and 100 high/school middle school students are getting from class to class.  I do have many students with 4-5 older siblings who get excited because they get to see them in the halls, but my students who have no older siblings cannot help but feel overwhelmed.

Over the past semester, I’ve pondered how to make the school feel smaller to them.  I was talking with 3rd grade teacher, Stephanie Rappe, about how nice it would be to pair up our students and do an activity.  Right before Thanksgiving break, the third graders came to our room to help the kindergartners make a turkey craft and then read with.

At first my students were very shy, but the third graders were so caring, they soon warmed up to the idea.  Watching the third graders interact with their buddy was incredible, they were all kind and patient.  They would show them how to cut in different ways, they would encourage them when they struggled with a word, and they read to them talking about different things in the story. My kids instantly began to look up to their buddy.

For some of them, the halls started to feel a little smaller because they would have someone to look for in.  We decided to do another project before winter break and my students were counting down the days.

This time we went up to the third grade room and made gingerbread men.  They were shocked that we had to walk up so many stairs to get there, but they thought it was so fun.  Once again the pairs all worked so well together.  I even heard one third grader say to his buddy ‘remember what I showed you last time, if you cut like this first it will be a lot easier.’  It has been wonderful for both groups of kids.

Changing Gears: From 7th Grade to Kindergarten

By Colleen Ryan — So far this school year has been a complete 180 from last year.

After I graduated in December, I taught reading, writing, and math to the 7th graders. I enjoyed working with the older students because we got to have really in depth conversations day to day about what they were learning.  Moving from 7th grade to kindergarten has been a joyful but overwhelming change.

During the past 3 weeks I have been working on retraining my brain to think on the level of my students.  Often times during the day I have to remind myself that school is something that is new to them.  The little things that I didn’t have to teach my students last year are now practiced every day until they become natural habits; like walking in the halls, saying their name loud in the lunch line, how to share, etc.

One of the best parts of teaching kindergarten is the excitement the kids have in each activity.  From the first day of school my 5 year olds came in with huge smiles on their little faces ready to learn.  Its amazing how the littlest things makes them instantly excited and engaged in what is going on, whether its using a puppet to teach letters or counting “like a lion” it is very easy to get the student enthused about each activity.  I could tell from day one that these little people have huge hearts, they all want to learn and they all want please me in every way they can.

I have had the pleasure of working with a veteran kindergarten teacher, which has been beyond helpful.  It is amazing to see what come from years and years of experience, and exciting to bring new ideas to the table. In the past three weeks I have learned so much about how to teach to these younger students and I am looking forward to learning more and more each day.

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Colleen Ryan ’10 graduated from Marquette with a degree in Elementary Education and Communication Studies.  For as long as she remembers she has always wanted to be a teacher because teachers have the ability to impact lives each and every day.  She will be starting her first year of teaching at the Hmong American Peace Academy teaching K5.  


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