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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

School Day Memories...

The school year is in full swing, with the end of the 1st quarter just around the corner. It has been a whirlwind of learning experiences for me in which I have loved and hated based on each minute of each day. The first day of school I had 11 three year olds looking at me wondering what this "school" thing was all about. Since I have worked on molding them into little students, which have proven to be more difficult than you may think.

Here is the rundown:

I have a runner. My runner is small, quick, and loves to laugh. He would much rather run circles around the classroom and pretend to not hear anything you say than play with the plethera of toys or participate in the engaging art activities that I spend hours planning each day. He has ran behind my desk, under the table, out the door, down the hall, off the playground, and into the parking lot. Do I chase my runner? No. I block, follow, watch, and offer other choices in place of the running. Do these things work? Not usually, but RESEARCH says they will.

Next, I have a hider. The hider is adorable with big blue eyes and chocolate brown hair. His smile will melt your heart-crooked baby teeth and all. When the hider is done with something, he lets you know by hiding. The easle tends to be his favorite place but he has also chose under the tables, under my desk, and behind the rocking chair. Do I pull my hider out of hiding? No. I offer incentives for him to come out for or offer choices of desirable things it is ok for him to do (of course options that I want him to do!) Does it work? Sometimes. When I offer a shiney red firetruck to the hider I can see the gleam in his baby blues as his wheels turn at the thought of coming out and playing with it. When he finally emerges from his secret place I often wonder if I should crawl under there in order to escape the demands of the day.

Now for the defiant one. He chooses to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. He pushes, kicks, bites, runs, throws, tears, screams, and rolls. His attention seeking behavior has finally turned into annoyance for the other students. They complain that they can't hear or see and they don't want to sit by him or play with him. I can't blame them, if I always got punched or kicked or pushed to the ground when playing with someone, I wouldn't want to be their friend either. 3 behavior charts and many "choices" later I'm still at a loss with my defiant one. Social skills are taught, practiced, and role played. Peer models are used. What do I get in return? A kick in the shin, my hooded sweatshirt strings pulled around my neck and and many unreturned phone calls from mom.

For a change of pace, let's talk about my timid one. Always in pink with sparkling shoes and a messy breakfast face, she looks up at you with eyes that plead for approval. She loves to touch and be close to those around her. She wants to please in every area. If even gently redirected, she will cover her face with her hands and hang her head in disapproval of herself. Given a squeeze and what seems like some much needed love, she will slowly take her hands down and bat her lashes at you letting you know she will never make a mistake again. With all my heart, I hope she grows out of this shy stage, but as I wait for growth, I try to shower her with praise in attempt to let her know how good she is doing in preschool.

On to my smarty pants! My smarty pants sits quiety, watching, listening, waiting. Hair in her eyes and hands in her lap, she will always do what is asked and always knows the answers. Often afraid to try new things, as she watches through her long bangs she eventually choses to join in and usually completes work that shines above all others.

Now for my babysitter. My babysitter is Mr. Responsible. His small frame and thick framed glasses help him see everything that happens in my room. He is my super cleaner, my praiser, and my acceptor. He will help any student in need and will befriend each and every child that has any sort of special needs. He takes care of all and is everyones friend. Mr. Popularity!

My selective hearer is probably one of my favorites. Sure we are supposed to have favorites, but when I first saw him, I knew I would love him. He is smaller than the rest with messy blonde hair. He has a smile that he knows he can flash and get a smile out of anyone. I quickly found out that he knew very well he was cute and he has used it many times in his short 3 years of life. He "pretends" to not know where he is supposed to be and when redirected, he chooses not to hear you. Even if you are standing right beside him saying his name, he will continue to play where he is not supposed to be playing at that moment. After a few minutes he will turn to you, flash that famous smile, and walk off to follow the direction that was given. I feel sorry for the little girls in my class because he is going to be a heartbreaker in years to come.

Next is my show-off. A smart little boy who cries each morning, miraculously turns into class clown once mommy is gone. He will act silly, blurt out, and dance crazy yet yearns for teacher approval. As we walk down the hall to recess or library, I often smile at him when I remind students to plus a "finger on your lip, hand on your hip" in order to keep their hands to themselves and voices off. He struts his stuff down the hall making sure for me to notice him.

The next bunch can be grouped together. I have the giggler, the space cadet and shaker. I really don't know how else to explain them. They blend in with the crowd. They are followers rather than leaders. They wish for approval yet follow attention seeking behavior that others display. They once cried and cried when being left at school and now are the first to line up at the door to come into school. And this makes 11. Eleven little bodies in a classroom learning to be students. Eleven laughers, criers, pee-ers, and huggers. Eleven runny noses, 22 untied shoes, and 22 germ infested hands.

Add in 3 associates and myself and that makes 15. Together we make 15. Together we will welcome in 3-4 new students throughout the year. We will cry, laugh, and grow together. We may want to run, hide, or be a bit silly, but together we will learn to love eachother.

At the beginning of the school year, when I was overwhelmed with the newness of a different school, and different position, and the demands of the students, I thought I would never survive. A co-worker told me once, "last year I felt the same way up until Halloween, but after Halloween, I wouldn't have traded my three year olds for the world." At first I thought I would never get to that point, but here I am, 1 week from Halloween, and I can honestly say I love these kids. They have become part of me and I have become part of them. I am their first school experience. I am the first teacher they have ever had. I will be their memories. It's really quite amazing to think about.

I beat my co-worker. 1 week from Halloween and I wouldn't trade my three year olds in for anything.

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