Thursday, August 29, 2013


Last week, a random guy at a Royals baseball game made me smile.

That sounds worse than it is. Keep reading -- I'm not a bad wife. :) [If my hubby reads this post -- I hope I freak him out!!]

So, a random guy made me smile with an incredibly kind comment. In fact, it was probably one of the nicest things I've ever been told. It had nothing to do with how I looked, what I was wearing, a joke I told, or really my personality at all. It was about my job.

Let me set the stage for you. Enter: me. After a couple margaritas at the Royals stadium. I was sitting with my sister, and my margaritas were making me very friendly with strangers around us. Hey - it happens.

Like the beginning of every school year, my allergies were at their peak last week. To top it off, I had spent the last 2 weeks straight talking, reading, and singing with/to a class of kindergartners. My voice was in bad shape. To put it in one of my girlfriend's words, I sounded like I had "an old lady smoker's cough."

My sister and I were laughing and talking about something when I had a little coughing fit. A guy in the row in front of us turned around and made some sarcastic comment about me quitting smoking. :)

Okay... this is where it all happens...

Me: "Ha ha. No, I don't smoke. I just lost my voice at work."
Random guy: "Oh. What do you do? Are you like a lawyer or a singer or something?"
Me: "Oh, no. I'm just a teacher."
RG (suddenly very serious): "Don't ever say that again."
Me (shocked): "Ummm... what?"
RG: "You said just. You are not just a teacher. You are a teacher."

I'm pretty sure a huge smile creeped on my face soon after. 

Me: "That was probably one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. Except maybe 'Will you marry me?'"
(Random guy's girlfriend enters with drinks)
Me: "You have yourself quite a nice guy here. I think he's a keeper."

I told her what had happened... and she, of course, agreed that she should keep him. :)

That's it. I don't even remember what he looked like, but I thought that was an incredible thing to say. I'm not sure if his mom was a teacher, or he was a teacher, or maybe he just always respected educational careers. But, he sure made an impression with me. And I won't forget what he said.

I'm not proud of myself for saying that word. In fact, I'm actually pretty ashamed of myself. But, unfortunately, I know exactly why I said it. Growing up, and even into my early adulthood, that's what teachers were to me -- just teachers. Don't think I'm terrible -- I'm just being completely honest.

Anyone who knows me in my professional life is floored when they find out I didn't decide to be a teacher until I was 20. Anyone can see -- I absolutely LOVE my job. I feel like I was born to teach kindergarten. I honestly can't believe I never wanted to do this incredibly fun, versatile, rewarding, and ever-changing job.

But, I didn't.

You see, I was a very intelligent child. I know that sounds like a strange statement -- but I just was. I was incredibly ornery in school because it was just so easy for me. My parents were strongly encouraged to skip me a grade or two, but with a sister just a year ahead of me, it just wasn't an option. So, my gifted teacher had her work cut out for her. :) 

I graduated high school with a 4.0 -- college, too (and now graduate school, too!) My parents and my sisters had big plans for me after high school. I was going the child that was going to be a scientist, or a journalist, or a doctor. They all knew how easy school was for me -- how naturally learning came to me -- so they were all ready to watch me do something great.

After a couple changes in my major, I realized that forensic science and anthropology both were not as fast-paced and interesting as I had hoped for. My lifelong dream of being a journalist fell flat after an internship at a newspaper. Everyone hated their jobs, lived for deadlines, and also seemed to hate each other.

During my sophomore year of college, I suddenly had an epiphany. "I think I want to be a teacher." It made sense -- I had always loved kids. I always liked school growing up -- it was fun. Yes, this was right for me.

My parents were devastated. It sounds bad, but they were.

They even made me go to a career counselor. [Mom and Dad, if you're reading this, I hope you laugh!]

But, I had finally made up my mind.

And here I am today. I am so happy that I made it here. I am so blessed to not only enjoy my job, but I know that I am also very good at what I do. What else could you ever want in a career?!

And... my family is incredibly proud. My mom visits my classroom every year, my family begs me to tell them stories about my week every Friday, and both of my parents are always telling stories about me to their friends. I honestly have never seem my dad as proud of me as he is when he tells his colleagues, "My daughter is a kindergarten teacher."

Life has a funny way of getting you exactly where you belong.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Birthday portraits

So, today is my birthday. As a grown-up, your birthday is pretty much just another day. But, I get to spend my birthday with a bunch of five- and six-year-olds who think birthdays are really important. So, that's kind of fun. :)

I always have the kiddos guess how old I am, and today, like always, it was entertaining. The guesses ranged from 8 to 81. 

But, today, I had the kids do something really funny. At this point in the year, our "writing" time exists of beginning journal routines -- how to find a new page, how to write the date, how to draw a detailed picture, how to tell about your picture, and some labeling (mainly copying letters from me -- or maybe listening for some sounds for advanced kinders).

So today, for my birthday, I had all the kinders draw a picture of me in their journals. They are to die for! I love them all -- they are all so different, but equally sweet and cute. Some of the kinders wrote my name, and some even wrote happy birthday ("HB" in kinder-writing). 

So... here they are. Enjoy!

Monday, August 26, 2013

World's worst aunt

So, I recently became an aunt and it has been one of the greatest joys of my life. 

However, a student in my class is not so fond of his aunt.

In fact... I'm pretty sure he hates her. And she sounds like the worst aunt ever. 

I honestly could not contain myself during this. I'm not kidding -- while he was going on and on about his aunt, I just opened up my computer and started typing his response word-for-word between giggles.


Mrs. A: "What did you do this weekend?"
Student: "I went to my mom's house."
Mrs. A: "And what did you do?"
Student: "Well... my mom's sister was there... she's really big. She's bigger than you. She's like 115. She's bigger than my mom. She's bigger than everything except a house and a tree. She's bigger than a giant. She stepped on me because she can't see where she's going because her face is so high in the air. She looks like this (makes a face). Her eyes look like zombie eyes. Like this (pulls eyes to the side). Her hair is pink. She's not nice. She steps on me a lot. She does it on purpose. She doesn't live anywhere because she's too big for a house. She has to live outside."


Our school's target "social skill of the week" is having a conversation. I think this little guy has got that one down!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Funny things this week

Well, my class is off to a GREAT start this year! Honestly! I am enjoying my kinders so much so far. They are not perfect... but I love them just the way they are. Energetic, wide-eyed, a bit challenging (sometimes more), and full of enthusiasm. 

This is the time of year when the kids start really "opening up" and becoming comfortable. Therefore they raise their hands and offer comments more. Therefore they say funny things. 

I promise to post the funny things as they come along! Here are a few goodies from this week:


Student (at recess): "I need to go to the bathroom."
Miss M. (my teammate): "Okay, let's walk to the door."
... students walks extremely slow...
Miss M: "Don't you think we should walk a little faster so we don't have an accident?"
Student: "If I walk any faster, things are going to start falling out."

I have this ADORABLE little girl in my class with the most old-fashioned hilarious name ever. I adore her. She is funny, smart, sweet -- she's like a tiny little grown-up. So, my teammate and I have gotten in the habit of calling her "Nugget."
Well, Nugget was called up in front of the school at assembly this week for showing excellent greeting skills (our social skill of the week). She came back to her seat beaming, and when I went to give her a high five, she said... "I faced my fear! I'm afraid of stage fright!" Then she added... "I'm also afraid of other children, but that's going away." She is awesome.


I have a little brown-skinned, brown-eyed beauty in my class this year. She is just gorgeous -- and will continue to be, I can just tell. She is sweet as can be and is just trying her best when it comes to everything. There is nothing more that I love then a kindergartner who gives everything the "ol' college try," even when they have no idea what the answer is. 

Mrs. A: "Honey, I'm going to point to some lowercase letters and if you know what the letter is called, tell me. If you don't know, just try your best or say 'I don't know.;"
(I point to g) Student: "That's a 9."
(I point to t) Student: "That's Jesus' cross."
(I point to l) Student: "Well, thats just a line."


Speaking of giving things the "ol' college try," I have a little guy who is always trying. His guesses for things he doesn't know are hilarious. And the funniest thing is that he knows it's funny -- because after he hears his answer and realizes how ridiculous it is, he always laughs. I honestly could not hold in my giggles when I was assessing his letter sound and number knowledge.

Mrs. A: "I'm going to point to a letter and I want you to try to tell me what sound that letter says. Try your best."
Student: "Okay."
(I point to the first letter) Mrs. A: "What sound does this letter make?"
Student: "Uh uh."
Mrs. A: "Okay, what about this letter?"
Student: "Beep beep."
Mrs. A (trying to hold it together now): "What sound does this letter make?"
Student: "Ding dong."
My giggles are just out of control by now. He continues with "bawk bawk, ha ha, ho ho, and moo."

This same little guy was a little confused with numbers...

Mrs. A (pointing to 13): "What number is this?"
Student: "3 and a half."
Mrs. A (pointing to 20): "What about this number?"
Student: "2:30."


And probably the best statement of the week -- just sums it all up. :) My students have been going through a lot of short assessments the last couple weeks. We need to assess what they already know so we have a read on their prior knowledge and experiences. Some school staff members have been trained to administer a quick, timed assessment of letter names and sounds with students (called Aimsweb). The staff members have been pulling my students one at a time for about 3-5 minutes throughout the day until they have all been assessed.

Well, one staff member came to pull a little girl in my class during stations. And she was not too happy about leaving her playtime!

Student (looking up at staff member): "My mom signed me up for fun -- she didn't sign me up for this."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Don't shake the baby

I never lose my temper and I never yell. It's something I'm actually pretty proud of when it comes to my job. When the world within the four walls of our classroom is suddenly out of control, I've developed a sleeve-full of strategies. None of them include anger, a loud voice, or any form of punishment. It's all about slowing it down and regaining the control and predictability.

I have a little one this year that's going to test me.

And just like any corny movie, I know his tests will make me a stronger, better, more adaptable form of my teacher-self.

Today, I kind of had a meltdown. Yes, me. I'm as surprised as you are. I would like to say that it's because this child is just too much for me to handle... too much for anyone to handle. But, no. I'm pretty sure it's because I'm exhausted from the week. He's exhausted, too. We're all exhausted from a whole lot of hard work.

And, don't get me wrong! The hard work is paying off! I am loving the culture that is brewing in my classroom. The kiddos are developing kindness toward one another, laughing at each other's "jokes," and every single one of my kinders is quiet and absorbingly engaged when I read a book. That last part is enough to outweigh everything else. It's that wide-eyed love of read-alouds that makes this age so special... and this class has it down to a T.

So, today, I got into a power struggle with a five-year-old. And it was close to the end of the day. And the defiance was just more than I could handle for that minute.

Well, that's not exactly right. I could handle it. But, I knew in that moment that I wasn't going to handle it with the grace, love, and patience that I wanted to. I wasn't going to handle it the way I expect myself to handle it.

So, I called for help. And I hated every minute of it. Call me prideful or stubborn, but I really hate asking for help at my job. But, I just needed someone to take him off my hands for 10 minutes. I could feel that I was taking his behavior and the struggle personally, and that's the one thing a teacher should never do. Maybe part of being strong is being able to admit when you're weak and need help. I sure hope so.

I felt a bit like a sleep-deprived new mom in the middle of the night. All I could think of was, "Don't shake the baby. Don't shake the baby."

And I didn't. And we worked through it. And he was all over me with lingering hugs when it was done. Good thing he's so darn huggable.

Moral of the story -- I'm not sure. But, don't shake the baby. It's all going to be fine. I just might have to tell myself that a few more times in the coming weeks. With a little grace, a whole lot of patience, and some "I'm-gonna-stay-calm-and-wait-until-you're-ready," I know we'll turn it around.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Funny things, sweet things, and everything in between

Well, the last couple days have been a huge success! I can't believe how well my students are doing already. They are surprising me everyday in wonderful ways. Don't get me wrong -- I have some challenging students and some little ones who will need a little (a lot) of extra support along the way... but overall, I am so very pleased with the crew I have been blessed with. I know the challenges will make me better... their cuteness will keep me cheered along the way... and their eagerness to learn and please will make everyday worthwhile.

This week so far has been full of funny things, sweet things, and just about everything in between. So much to reflect on and remember in such a short amount of time already! 


One thing that always cracks me up about new kinders is their confusion with how/when/where/what they will eat. When you think about it, it's a huge deal! Their parents drop them off at this strange new place with no food or a mysterious zippered box in their backpacks. How strange. :)

Usually, I lose count of how many little ones ask me, "Is it snacktime yet?" or "When's lunch?" or "Wait... I didn't bring a lunch. What do I do?!" But, this year, none of my kinder asked or seemed concerned! 

Right when they walked in on Monday, I sat them down inside the classroom door and clearly and repeatedly explained that everyone today would be eating either their lunch from a lunchbox or a corndog from the school. They all nodded and accepted it like a bunch of champs. Success.

However, after morning recess when we sat down for the class snack, one little girl looked extremely concerned and confused. I stopped by each table and distributed animal crackers onto their napkins. This poor little darling looked up to me with disappointment and said, "I thought you said we were having corndogs!" I couldn't help but giggle. Too cute.


At the beginning of the year, it's always interesting to see which little ones are already beginning to read. Some kids just pick it up so gracefully and naturally. Some others benefited from quality pre-school programs. Regardless, there's always a couple who are at least beginning to figure it out.

So, when I'm showing words or reading at the beginning of the year, I often pause and give opportunities for the kids to read. That way, I can kind of "get a feel for" the class.

Yesterday afternoon, we were discussing how many people lived in our houses. The kids were taking turns placing hearts with their names on them onto the board under different numbers. It was a great way to practice counting.

I made signs up to the number 6. The last one said "more." I held up the sign and said, "This one doesn't have a number on it. It says m-o-r-e. Does anyone know what that word says?"


One little boy tries... "J?"

Another one tries... "3?"

Gotta love the effort. :)


I have a little guy in my class that I just know I will be writing about a lot. Like I've always said... "there's one every year!"

We're going to call this one Mighty Mouse.

Well, Mighty Mouse is exactly like he sounds. Tiny, full-of-life, funny little voice, and never slows down. He's irresistibly adorable and charmingly ornery. He's brutally honest and overly dramatic. Examples provided:

Mighty Mouse (comes to me at recess and grabs my hand): "Come here."
Me: "Okay. What's going on, bud?"
MM: "I want to go on the tire swing."
Me: "Okay. There's a line right here to wait your turn."
MM: "But, I don't want a line."
Me: "I know, bud. But, we have to wait our turn. If you don't want to wait, you can go play something else!"
MM: "But, I want to get on the tire swing."
Me: "Well, I'll stand in line with you."
MM: "No. I don't think I want a line here."
............ continues for at least another minute. Hilarious.
Me: "Hey bud, did you tell your mom and dad how you scraped your nose at recess?"
MM: "Yep. And I told them how I went to the hospital room."
(a.k.a. the health room)
Oh, and the overly dramatic side of Mighty Mouse. I can't help but just laugh!
"I didn't get a turn to say my idea. I'll never have a turn."
"Ugh. I'm never going to get on the tire swing. Ever."
"She's going to sit next to me all the time. For the rest of my life."

Last, but not least, are my two heart-warming moments from the week. Yes, teaching kindergarten is funny. The kids are cute. It's exhausting, rewarding, and unpredictable. But, in the long run... it's these things that really matter.

1. I heard my first, "I love you" today at dismissal. And it came from the least likely kid. He was at the front of the line when we were leaving. He poked me in the side, looked up at me and just said, "I love you." He wrapped his arms around me and I thought I would melt inside. As the year goes on, I'll hear it more -- I'll see it in letters -- they'll "battle" to see who can say the nicest thing to me. But, there's something really special about a little pair of brown eyes that you know has seen a lot of heartache saying that on the third day of school.

2. If anyone reading this is a parent, and you like your child's teacher, read on. If you really want to make your child's teacher smile and feel great about what he/she does, write an e-mail to the principal. One of my student's parents did that today and my principal forwarded it on. I almost cried, it was so kind. It was exactly the "cup of tea" I needed to finish up the week. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Quite a first day!!

Today was quite a first day in our kindergarten classroom! First of all, I have 20 absolutely adorable kiddos. So stinkin' cute... I know they will have me wrapped around their fingers in no time. :)

I'm absolutely exhausted.

Seriously. I can't feel my feet.

Which is completely normal. Except this year, our district started school on a Monday. Yes, a full week of kindergarten starting on a full Monday.

It's going to be a rough week -- the afternoons are going to be tough. But, we're in this together. And I know that if I put my all into it and stick it out... my little kinders will, too! So, here's to eating a bigger breakfast, drinking one more cup of coffee, and making sure I am at my best for them this week.

So, a small reflection of the day...

  • Besides the typical handful of kids who only call me "Teacher" for the first 2 weeks, I also have 2 students who are only calling me "Mr. Anderson." I don't know how many times I tried correcting them, but I finally just gave up and just laughed. 
  • I could immediately tell this group must be at least slightly more mature and prepared for kindergarten than normal. I could tell because I automatically adapt my teaching style and expectations to their zone of development. Today, I found myself talking and acting more like a middle-of-the-semester day instead of the first day. Which is awesome. 
  • For the first year, every one of my students independently said their name at our morning circle time. Believe it or not, this is HUGE! For the first week, we pass the bear everyday and practice saying our names. Yes, kinder babies need to practice saying their names nice and loud and clear. I was so proud of them -- simply beaming!
  • I had one crier. Which I totally expected. She cried off and on for the whole morning -- just struggling to transition and adjust. But, 1 in 20 isn't bad! Hoping the rest of the week follows in suit.
  • I had more hugs and had my hand held more times today than I ever have on a first day. I'm not sure if that's predictive of a group that will need more attention or simply a more affectionate batch of kiddos. Regardless, I loved it. One little guy (who I know from prior information does not have a traditional, stable home environment) would just hug his arms around my waist while I was standing there talking. The "normal Mrs. A" would give a quick squeeze and direct him to sit back down. But, something in him today wouldn't let me let go. So, I just let it happen -- and I have a feeling that choice will come back to reward me when this little guy trusts me enough to take risks and learn.
  • Well, the crier mentioned above fell off the monkey bars. SERIOUSLY -- it just had to be her! Kids hurting themselves at recess is nothing new. However, sending a kiddo to the emergency room on the first day of kindergarten... now that's a first. Well, I guess we can only go uphill from here. Yikes. I hope they tell this story at her wedding some day. :)
  • One little guy wanted me to push him on the swing. I told him I would... if he spelled his name for me (let's get some discrete trials goin!) He proceeded to spell his name for me, "M-O-3-B." Yep. Gotta love him. (And no... none of those letters are in his name.) It's going to be a big year for him!
  • Overall, I'm excited, optimistic, and hopeful for a great year. On a very positive note, this is probably one of the more racially and culturally diverse group of kinders I've had -- which I love. Variety is the spice of life!
  • Lastly... nothing makes a first day of kindergarten ring true like when a little guy lining up to go to the after-school program looks at you and says, "I don't want to leave." 
Anyone who plans a bunch of cutesy ideas and projects for the first day of kindergarten is CRAZY. And will be severely disappointed when nothing gets done and the art project turns into a haircut. However, I did get around to one cute "souvenir" for my kinders' parents this year -- and they turned out so cute!

I sent them all out to the parents after school... I hope they love them!