Saturday, May 30, 2009

Last Day Thoughts

Yesterday was the last day of school. Here are some thoughts on the day.

1) Sick Child: A, one of my angels, has been sick. She didn't make it to school on Thursday because she was running a fever. Yesterday, when I took attendance, she was not there. I was so sad to miss seeing her on the last day. Ten minutes later, she showed up at the door with her mom, crying. Her mom asked me for help with A. She said that A was still running a slight fever but that she was begging her to come to school since it was the last day. I told the mom that I would keep A for a bit and if we needed to, we would call her to pick A up. A gave me a big germy hug and took a seat. Another 30 minutes later, I saw tears welling up in A's eyes. I came over to check in on her and this is what she said :"Ms.V., I no feel good. My tummick (stomach) hurts." I told her that I was so happy to see her but that it was time for her to go home. I sent her off to the nurse's office with a hug and a few party goodies in a bag. She started to walk away but then turned around and ran back to give me a hug and a big kiss on the cheek. She said "I lub you Ms.V. I will miss you!" That girl just melts my heart!!!

2) JUNK food : Once again, the food vs. academic achievement test produced the same results. The higher the class is academically, the smaller the feast. When the class is overall lower in academic acheivement, we have a plethora of junk food. Yesterday's feast was disgustingly large. I think we had 10 bags of chips, 2 cakes, 3 bags of cookies, 3 bottles of juice, 4 boxes of juice boxes and more. I sent most of it home. Just looking at it made me gain a few pounds! I love those kids but I think we needed to work on nutrition a little more than we did.

3) Confession: One of my boys, A, has ADHD. There is talk of him possibly having Asperger's as well. He is a very bright young man but is challenged behaviorally. He takes no medicine and sees no specialist for his challenges. This makes life tough for him. I try my best to make accomodations for him because I know that the problems that arise as a result of his issues are totally out of his control. It makes my work exhausting but it is necessary for him to be successful. I am always redirecting him and trying to find something positive and motivating to say to him to keep him on track. Yesterday, on our way back from lunch, he was a mess in the lunch line. Jumping up and down, flying around in circles kicking the air... yikes! So, I did my usual routine of walking up to him and pretending to completely ignore the behavior and ask him if he could escort me to the classroom because I wasn't sure how to get there. (This is my little game that I play with him to redirect his behavior and to help him save face in front of his peers)
A snapped out of it and took my arm and began his tour guide routine to escort me to the room. He walked very nicely to class and was quite the gentleman. When we got to the class, he waited outside as everyone filed inside. Then, when we were alone outside, he said "Ms. V. I am sorry. I just can't calm myself down sometimes. I will try to do better." I gave him the biggest hug ever. I told him that it was no problem and that I would be happy to walk him to class next year if he needed help calming down. He melts my heart too!

4) English!!!: J, is a newcomer from Mexico. He has been here for 2 months. He has learned a substantial amount of English in the short time he has been here but would rather speak in Spanish. In academic situations, I pushed the English but for social situations, I let him use Spanish. These last two weeks though, I tried pushing the English with him for everything. Basically, he would ask me in Spanish and then I would translate in English and have him repeat it to me. The most common phrase was, of course, the bathroom request. Right before school let out yesterday, J came rushing up to me with an urgency in his eyes that told me what he needed to do before he even asked. He started to ask in Spanish and then with a sparkle in his eye and a heavy accent said "May I go to the bathroom please?" Love it! Never too late!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My First Invitation

Every year that I have been teaching, I have always talked up the importance of going to school, working hard and going to college. Additionally, I ask my students to invite me to their high school and college graduations. I have been teaching for 14 years now and not once have I had a student take me up on that until this year.

E was in the first class that I taught in public school. He was a stocky little guy, good kid, a bit shy and timid. He was a hard working student academically and had a good foundation at home to keep him straight.

I haven't seen E in years. 10, to be exact. During Open House, a few weeks ago, he popped in to say hi. He looked great! He is in great shape, is well spoken, seems very self assured and happy. He asked how I was doing and also asked about my daughter. E shared his after high school plans with me. He will be attending UC Merced and then hopes to transfer to Cal in two years. I was so excited for him and I gave him a great big hug.

E came by with his parents. They thanked me for helping him the year that he was with me. They also thanked me for helping them to work with him. They knew very little English and were not sure if they would be able to give him the support that he needed. E is living proof that they could and that they did.

Then came the best surprise of all. E and his parents asked me if I would come to his high school graduation. YAY! I got a bit weepy and of course said "YES!"

Friday night is the last day of school. On the last day of school I like to run home and begin my long vacation right away. This year, I will hold out for a few hours. I will stay in town and proudly watch one of my former students make his walk across the stage to receive his diploma. I am so proud of him.

I don't think anything can top this except, of course, if he invites me to his college graduation!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fan Mail

One of the things I love about my job are the sweet letters I get from my students. I call them my fan mail. Depending on the group, I can get several of them a week. This year, I have two girls in particular who like to write to me. One is very clever with the method of delivery. She strategically places them in spots where I am sure to find them.

I, of course, have to turn this into a teachable moment. She has mastered the 2nd grade friendly letter format so I am working on building vocabulary with her. As an English learner, she can use the help with descriptive language. I told her that we could turn her letter writing into a game of hide and seek. She is to hide the letter and then give me descriptive clues to find it. We are having lots of fun with it and she is learning at the same time.

Typed below is today’s fan mail installment. I typed it just as it was written, spelling mistakes and all. It is a keeper. It will be added to my bulging envelope of similarly sweet letters from students from years past.


Dear, Mrs. V,

How have you been? You are the best teacher in the world! You are nice with us. You are funny! You are good at arts and crafts. I love the movies you put. I relly like Arthur movies. Could we see them all this week or before we end school? I hope we could see ech other when I’m in 3rd grade. You are cute.