Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pictures are worth a thousand words

#kinderblog2012 Question 5:

Choose 5 objects from around your home (NOT your classroom!) that tell us something about you: as a teacher or as a person. Take pictures of the objects and post them with captions. The real challenge here: the captions should be no longer than a regular tweet-- that is, 140 characters

My 3 lovely kiddos... they keep me young, entertained and inspired to be the best dad!

My beautiful wife... the love of my life!

The endless amount of books in our basement.  The kids love to go to "our library in the basement" to check out new books

Relaxing on a hammock... enough said

Where I spend most of my evenings - grilling out some tasty dinners for the family

Alternate Career

#kinderblog2012 Challenge... Question #4

If you had to quit teaching tomorrow, what would you do instead?

Hmmm... what would I do besides teaching?  Maybe I would be a meterologist?  I mean who would not like to have a no-pressure job, right?  What other profession can you make predictions, sometimes be totally off, and still keep your job?  Just kidding :-)

If I was not going to be a teacher or administrator, I would have to say I would be one of two professions.

1.  a sports commentator.  I LOVE sports... all sports - basketball, football, tennis, golf, baseball, soccer.  I would love to sit courtside and call games, travel all around the country or world, and see the best of the best perform on a regular basis.

2.  take over for Guy Fieri and host "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives".  Love that show and would love to travel all over the country and try some great food, meet some of the most interesting people, and share these experiences with others.

However, I know I would miss the kids, the teachers, and all the "little joys" we receive each and every day!  I am happy where I am and wouldn't trade it for anything!

Friday, July 13, 2012


#Kinderblog 2012  Question numero trois!
Tell us about your pet peeves. Do it however you want: write a list of 50 things that drive you crazy, or an essay about just one thing, or story combining several things, or write a song, or some limericks, or an epic poem. A photo essay! A slideshow! Video journalism! Stand up comedy! The sky is the limit, just tell us what grinds your teeth as a teacher (or an administrator, or a program director, or in whatever capacity you are joining this challenge.) (Yeah, parentheses again. I think I need an intervention.) Be careful: your blog is public, and you never know who is reading. Be positive and professional, but tell the truth. You can do it.

So this question was a bit of a challenge for me to write about.  I am a very positive, laid back person and I rarely get my "feathers ruffled".  So it was a bit of a stretch for me to think about things that drive me crazy.  I like to think that I am in control of myself and my actions and can only hope to influence others through our interactions.  But, I have to be honest with myself.  There are a few little "mosquitos" that pester me from time to time.  So here goes:

1.  It bugs me when people are labeled, especially children.  I cringe when people say "that ADHD boy" or that "Sped girl".  First and foremost, they are people.  That boy may have ADHD, but that is not all that child is.  Let's remember that fact and keep the person in mind - not simply the label.

2.  It bugs me when I ask someone how their day is going and they respond "I am tired".  I am sorry you are tired, but there is not much I can do for you.  Please don't let it affect your day.  Find a way to power through and do the best you can with you have in your tank that day - I just don't need to know you are tired.  Trust me, with 3 kids (one is 10 weeks old), odds are I am probably tired as well but I am not going to let it show and neither should you.

3.  It bugs me when people use developmentally appropriate practices as a crutch.  During my first year as a principal, a teacher came to me and said "I don't think that is developmentally appropriate for kindergarten."  After talking it over with her, my response was "so you are telling me that not one child can benefit from that?"  Often times, people throw the phrase "developmentally appropriate" around and use it to refer to an entire group.  If we are truly working to educate each and every child, then we have to be willing to look at each child and know what he/she needs to be successful.  Just because it might not be a DAP for all the children, does not mean that it could not benefit one child so don't just discard the idea.

4.  It bugs me when people say "two thousand and twelve".  Maybe that is the math nerd in me but there is no "and" in the number.  It is simply "two thousand twelve".  I know, I know - that is weird but it just bugs me for some strange reason!

That is all because I don't want to go on and on... like I said, I am really easy going and laid back.  However, these are my "final four"  of mosquitos that pester me. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Our Learning Space

When I think of our classroom over the years, a few aspects stand out in my mind.  First and foremost, it is the children's classroom.  I  have never referred to it as "my room"; rather, it is "our room".  This perception is evident in almost every way the room is designed, constructed and run.  Our classroom was not your "typical" kindergarten classroom but I am proud of the ways our classroom was set up.

The layout of the room: I loved taking everybody's "leftovers".  You know those odd shaped tables that no body wanted because they were old and did not match the rest of the furniture?  Well, those are the ones I loved and wanted for our classroom.  Our classroom had a hodge podge, a mix-match of random tables - circle, trapezoid, rectangle, square.  I did not want the long rectangular tables that 6 children sat around that were colorful and uniform.  I wanted a variety of tables.  Some tables had chairs, others did not which allowed for children to stand and move around if they wanted to.  Some tables were lowered so children could sit on their pillows and knees.  Other tables had balance balls for children to sit on, wiggle on, and learn on.  We also had a full set of clipboards for those children that wanted to spread out, lay down and learn on their stomachs or backs.  Our room did not have a teacher's desk because it took away space from their room (and it helped me keep my piles of paperwork down!)  Our room configuration changed from year to year and quite frequently throughout the year when we needed to better meet our needs.  Needless to say, each year our room looked different.  It met the needs of our class and took on the personality of our class!

Putting it all together: each year when the children walked into our room, it was empty.  Nothing was on the walls or on the shelves.  Putting our room together was our first task as a class on the first day.  I had everything (toys, manipulatives, books...) in boxes.  The children would then "unpack" the room.  They had to decide which items went on each of the shelves (this helped with cleaning up at the end of each day because they knew where everything belonged because THEY put it there).  They helped to create everything on the walls.  I no longer had to buy fancy little posters and signs.  THEY made everything (colors, number charts, letter charts... everything) and then determined where it would go up on the walls so they could use that information.  This created ownership and pride in our classroom and our work since we all needed to use the work on the walls to help us all learn. 

Obviously, this takes a great deal of trust and letting go on my part or any teacher's part.  But ultimately, it did not matter to me where things went on the walls or on the shelves.  It was their room and the children determined what was going to work best for them (even at the young age of 5)!  Our learning started by creating our learning environment - a learning that went beyond standards, curriculum and assessments.