Thursday, May 27, 2010

One on One With Kids

It's been hot here this week. Hot, as in, "Hotter than a ____ in a _____." A friend of mine posted yesterday on Facebook that she was "sweating like a Kardashian on Jeopardy". Brilliant.

Our school is not air conditioned. Thankfully I'm on the garden level, so even when the morning sun shines in, it doesn't take over my room. Plus, there are some pretty large trees just outside my window which help to shade the area.

Regardless of all these things, the air gets pretty stagnant when you cram 25 sweaty third-graders in the room, combined with the heat from our computers or the florescent lights. I have two fans in my room to help blow the air around. The kids have gravitated to these fans like flies on fly paper. They like to stand two inches away from them, having their hair blown back, while they squint their eyes like a dog out of a car window. During silent reading time, they pull their chairs around the fan as if it's some kind of prayer ritual. They also like to talk into the fan to make their voices sound like a bad Darth Vader imitation. I have set rules about these fans, but apparently they're following the rule that "rules are meant to be broken". I can turn around for one second, and they're back at the fan.

Today it was my turn. In the morning, as I made my way into the classroom after greeting everyone when they came in, I stopped by the fan. I made all of my morning announcements by the fan. I stood by the fan as I told the usual kids to get back to their desks and stop talking to their friend across the room.

At one point during my fan time, one of my philosophers came over to get some fan air and also to chat me up. We talked about the previous night's homework and how he "knew the answer right away, but his mom made him figure it out!". We talked about the book he is reading, and how it caused him to be late for the bus. (This isn't the first time that reading or being read to has caused him to be late. I think I'll forgive him.) We talked about the ice cream social the night before and all of the junk he consumed and won.

As he stood there talking, I tried to take it all in. This class has been wonderful. Sure, the kids or I have our moments, but all in all, it's been a great ride. Now with just three weeks left, I'm starting to see the end is near. In my past teaching gigs, I couldn't wait until the year ended, and I wasn't too concerned whether I would see the kids again. But this gig has been different. The class is such a great mix of personalities with great attitudes. They care about each other, they (for the most part) respect each other and me, and they care about being in school.

I'm going to miss the one on one time that I've spent with each one of them. Even if it's just to get closer to the fan breeze.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

And I Was Running

You know that scene in Forrest Gump, the one where he's running like a maniac, runs across the country, and can't stop? That's not me. The only thing that I have going is the running part. Maybe.

I have started running again. Once upon a time, I was running on a regular basis. It was easy to do when I was traveling for work. I would come back to my hotel at the end of the work day, change into my workout clothes and hop onto the treadmill in the hotel "gym". The gym inevitably was a closet crammed with a treadmill, sometimes an elliptical machine, and a big bonus was a TV to watch while running. I counted on this routine to keep me sane, help lose or maintain weight, and build my confidence in running. I was running about 3 miles on a regular basis.

Eventually the travel ended and I kept up with the running at our local Y, and outside. But all good things must come to an end, I guess. I used the excuse of school and life stuff to stop running. I was always afraid to start again. It's like when you're deciding to get your hair cut short after growing it long. You don't want to deal with the beginning stages again.

Enter in a class called Running 101 at our local running shoe store. It's a class designed to get you the tools and support you need to run a 5K within 6 weeks. Once a week, Stein and I gathered with a group of people to run and then learn about things like running nutrition, or stretching, or core strength. The class is designed in a way that you are expected to be doing regular runs on your own to build up to the 5K mark. It was a great way to get back into it, with a group of people who were in the same boat.

At the end of the 6 weeks, we were running 3 miles on a pretty consistent basis. We wanted to keep going with the class atmosphere, so we decided to try the Running 201 class. Last week was the first time with this class. The people in the group had all been in the class for the last session, so they were friends. We introduced ourselves and were thrown into the reality that is the 201 class. In 101, the goal was to run a 5K at the end. In 201, the goal is to run a 10K at the end.


Our instructor (who was the same instructor for the 101 class) handed me the slip of paper with the route we would be running that night. "There's a 4-mile route, a 6-mile route, or a 7-mile route. It's up to you which one you want to do," she said. Then she turned to me, and said, "Which one are you going to do?" Gulp. Gulp. "I think I'm going to do 4," I squeaked out as confidently as I could. In my head I was thinking, 4 miles?! 4 miles?! I don't do 4 miles. Well, not yet, anyway. Well, I did do 4 miles before. There was that hotel in Golden, CO, where I did 4 miles, or that hotel in Scottsdale, AZ where I did 4 miles. Both on treadmills. Set at 0% incline. With air conditioning in the room.

We started out on the route, and I was feeling pretty confident, with a little bit of fear mixed in. When we got to the turnaround point, our instructor joined us, and ran with us. I could tell that she was having a hard time slowing down to my pace, but I kept trudging along. I kept thinking, I really want to stop right now. But I'm with the instructor so I can't. But I really want to stop right now. Over and over this thinking went, until we got to a pretty large hill, the one we coasted down on the way out, and I just stopped. "You go on," I managed to get out in between huffs and puffs. She eventually caught up to Stein, who told me later, also went through the same thoughts of I can't stop now, but man I want to stop. We eventually made it back to the store, had a nice session with a yoga instructor for some deep stretches, and were on our way.

I think the main thing I have to remember with this class is to do those runs in between. To challenge myself to do something I'm not so comfortable with. To just keep running.

Run, Forrest!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

And the List Keeps on Growing

So I'm here. And there.

We're at the 5-weeks-left-of-school mark. The point where most teachers have a split personality. Half of your thoughts are, "Five more weeks of school? I can't. Take. Another. Day." While the other half of your thoughts are, "Oh, #@$%&&! I only have five weeks left of school? I have so much to get done! How will I ever get all of this done with the way the kids are being so squirrelly?" Before you know it, the five weeks have whizzed by, and summer is in full swing. I can't wait.

Until then, I/we have been/will be crazy busy. School stuff, life stuff, and everything in between. So, more lists for blog posts get created in my head:
-Running (again)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Writing in Nature

We recently started a unit on poetry. While I don't mind poetry, it's not one of my favorite forms of writing. I much prefer personal narratives. I know you're all saying, "Duh, Kelly, you write a blog, of course you like personal narratives." Yeah, yeah, I know.

So when we started this unit on poetry, I wasn't really looking forward to it. In fact, I give each lesson somewhat hesitantly. Sometimes I feel like the kids are going to sense my apathy on the subject and reflect it in their writing and behavior.

I've been pleasantly surprised by their reaction to poetry. You can hear a pin drop when I read some of the poems as examples of what we're focusing on that day. The time spent on writing their poems is only punctuated by talking, which is more often sharing of their writing than chatting. After each lesson, I let out a big sigh of relief and think, this is not bad. In fact, this is great. But something happens between the end of one lesson and the beginning of the next one. The same feeling of trepidation creeps back in as I prepare for the next lesson.

Today I was all ready to do the next lesson in the unit. I copied the poems we would use as examples, and had them all ready to go. But somewhere between the copying and the time for writing, I decided we needed to get outside. The weather was gorgeous here today, which has fortunately been typical of this spring. Warm, sunny, and no humidity.

I told the kids that we would be taking our notebooks outside, and after recess we would write some more "dear poems". A lot of dear poems deal with things found in nature. What better way, I thought, to get out in nature and write about it? Besides, there have been a lot of articles published lately on the lack of exposure to nature that kids are getting lately. Mickey and I have been talking about this, how kids are missing out on the benefits of being in nature. I have to be honest, I forget about these benefits until they're right in front of me. I warned the kids before we went out that we could easily come back into the classroom if they weren't working on their writing. I had those copied poems waiting. Yet I don't know why I even warned them. They didn't need a warning. Except for a few seat changes, they all were into their writing.

We're lucky to have our school situated in a place surrounded by huge, mature trees and plenty of natural settings. There are picnic tables scattered around which are perfect for doing classroom-type activities.
Some kids chose the concrete as their workspace. The shadows of the trees couldn't be ignored, however. What a fantastic way to spend our writing time today. I think we need to do this more often. We all need it.

Nature - The Samples
nature it's all around me
nature is so astounding
it puts me on a beach
it swims beneath the sea
it's never out of reach
it's even you and me
nature it's all around me
nature I hope it finds me
it takes me from a book
from pictures I can't feel
but outside when I look
natures something real
nature it's all around me
nature I hope it finds me
it's hiding up a tree
it sees me looking down
look at you and me
and nature can be found
nature it's all around me
nature I think it found me
I wonder where it starts
I wonder where it goes
maybe in our hearts
only nature knows