Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Math Time

That dreaded word...Math. I don't know why, but when I think of numbers, my heart rate goes up and I want to hide under a rock. I truly believe that I bring with me some unnecessary experiences from early on and I can't seem to let them go. I think we all have our strengths, and our weaknesses, but I also believe that we can change.

I am in the middle of my Montessori math training and I am trying to let go of old ideas and have a fresh perspective, just like children have. Because learning new skills is not just for children!

So I had to create a 1:1 correspondence game and I came up with this "Ducks around a Pond," scenario. It's so important to have colorful and aesthetically pleasing works out in the classroom for children because they will find joy in working with something so beautiful. I'm not saying this is beauty at its best, but I don't think it's too bad, and I had fun making it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Back at it!

I fell off the blogwagon. I was doing so well and I was so motivated and then... well, I moved. Man oh man, talk about being pulled out of my comfort zone! I had a great thing going at my old place; all of my student teaching syllabuses were up on the wall ( amid some smaller wedding photos that kept me smiling), I had the laminator set up and all was well. It took me a couple of weeks to work my way back into another groove, which I am happy to say has happened.
But wow, do I have a lot of work to do! The good news is that most of it is super fun! Last night I spent the majority of the evening creating some rhyming and matching games that will soon be in the classroom. And now that I am feeling so much more comfortable leading groups, Elton and I (yes, he is a big part of my planning) enjoy planning out some fun activities! I am still singing. I am still singing all the time and last night I made up a song about the letter "P" and sang it today, it was kind of a big hit. If you email me, I might be able to give you the rights for a good price. One verse preschool songs don't come cheap folks.

I'm loving life right now and I am so enjoying teaching these kids. They inject in me with a new energy I didn't even realize I had, and I find that it spills over into my personal life. Anyway, this is a short post because I need to go buy a lamp. Boring, but so necessary, I can't see so well at my desk. No good. So, off I go, but here is a look of one of my favorite recent works, the Attribute Game inspired by no other than, Elton the Dog!

Friday, October 21, 2011

And Then I Sang...

One of the things I am learning is that part of being a good teacher is having a pocket full of, no wait, a bag full of tricks for moments when kids need some... refocusing. When I first started teaching, I was petrified of sitting in front of twenty one children and talking, never mind singing a song or doing a presentation. I didn't even know any songs, or so I thought. This year, it's a whole new ball game. I don't have many tricks in my bag, but one of them works like a charm, and that is my singing voice.

My entire life I have been drawn to music and I think I was singing before I was talking. If you asked my mom, she'd tell you all about my "highlight reel" from Disney World when I was in sixth grade. It involves some sort of karaoke with a green screen, a Whitney Houston song, and a leather jacket with a cowboy hat. As I got older, athletics became more of my thing and the singing faded into the background. But you better believe that when I would lie in bed at night, I was visualizing myself as the lead singer in the 1980's broadway show, "Big River." Big River was my FAVORITE show in the world. I knew (and still know) every single word to every single song on the soundtrack. So, it was quite easy for me to see myself as the lead role, even though the lead was a man. If I am right, Peter Pan was played by a woman many times, so there.

I digress. My desire to sing publicly has resurfaced and I am grateful to have a brother who is an amazing musician. He and I sing when we are together and have actually sang at venues a few times. We also did a little Sade number at my sisters wedding. Those were nerve-wracking but exciting opportunities for me, but I needed more. And then it happened, my classroom became my stage.

I sing everything! "Hand on the raaaaaillliiinnngggg, hand on the raiilllinnnng. Walking so lovely uuuuupppp to the gyymmmmm." And my favorite this week, "Blackbird" by the Beatles. Of course I shorten that one to make it quick, but man is it effective! It's also such a wonderful feeling to sit in front of the children now and help them to focus in just by the sound of my voice. I don't feel like I've mastered anything as a student teacher, but this little gem of a strategy is helping me towards that goal.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Final Result: The Birds Have Landed

I added this work to the Sensorial shelves this morning and a few children pulled it off and worked with it. What a joy! Anyway, here is the final result. Like I said, simple.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

All Jazzed Up About Matching Birds!

As I mentioned in my last post, one of my strengths is that I have a lot of fun ideas I would like to add to the classroom. The downside to this is that I feel like I can't accomplish most of them in a timely manner. Ideas take over my brain all day long and as great as that sounds, it sometimes feels like a curse. My husband Eric tells me that he wishes I wouldn't always act on things at the exact minute I come up with an idea. What he doesn't realize is that I have to, or it will slowly melt away into oblivion.

I am excited tonight though because I've had this idea brewing and I am almost done! One of our assignments was to create a parallel work for something in the Sensorial area of the Montessori classroom. I chose to work off the idea of the Color Tablets. What are those you might ask? No problem, click here. So, I found these neat vintage sketches of birds and I wanted to introduce them as a simple matching work; something different and something eye catching. I also realize, I can extend this collection by adding some words and making it a language work. So, yay for two birds with one stone! (Very fitting pun.)

I will indeed be cutting these into cards, don't you worry. I would also just like to say, my laminator is the coolest!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Nose to the Grindstone

I have just returned from my student teaching seminar and my mind is overflowing with wonderful ideas, but most of all, the realization that I have A LOT of work to get done. I always leave with some fun ideas I want to implement in my classroom, but it hits me pretty quickly that you don't just throw something together and put it out for the kids. You have to think it through, and then think it through again. I think one of my strengths has always been to come up with some creative and fun ideas. My weakness is struggling with how to accomplish them all.

Though these sessions are held after I've been in my class all day, and I'm exhausted, I find them so helpful and try and utilize the time as much as possible. There are many other student teachers in the same boat as I'm in and it feels like a support group. I sometimes wonder if I am that annoying girl who talks to much and asks too many questions. You know that girl who brings up a topic five minutes before the bell rings? Please lord, let me not be her. The thing is though, I need to be vocal and interactive because it's the only way I learn. It somehow helps to imprint the information on my brain.

School was always something I struggled with. I was diagnosed with a learning disability when I was in elementary school and I thank my parents for creating a long term goal for me not only to work around that disability, but to be successful in life. In high school and middle school I had an entourage which consisted of my tutor, my school advisor, and my teachers. I absolutely needed these people to take me through those years and eventually release me into a world where I could stand on my own as a result of their tireless efforts. Which I have been able to do. However, I struggle sometimes with feeling like my mind can't hold all the information I am being given, and I get scared that I will fall short in many ways.

But I have learned something so valuable about myself, and that is that I know how I learn. I know that when I have a long meeting that is content-heavy, I need to just accept that I can't process it all at that time. I know that I will eventually get home and go through the assignments one by one and find a strategy and timeline that works for me. I am so grateful for this self-knowledge because it helps me to relax and know that it will all get done.

Right now, it feels like I have a million and one things I need to do over these next weeks. I want to run to the craft stores and pull all the materials off the shelves and just play. I can see myself staying up all hours of the night browsing endless Montessori blogs and just soak myself with ideas. But I can't, because I try to live a life of moderation with everything I do, and getting obsessive and frantic ain't pretty.

So this blog was my venting session; a way for me to say out loud that I need to take it all one tiny step at a time. Oh, and to breathe.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hardly Recognize Myself... And I Love It.

Every morning I get up at 5:30am and walk to my overcrowded closet. I usually have this same conversation: "Cant wear those, too dressy. Heels? What, am I crazy? Cant wear those, they'll get ruined. Oh well, I guess the jeans and button down will have to do... again." As boring as this sounds, it's actually become quite a welcome in my life and I completely embrace the simpleness of my fashion choices these days.

For years on this blog, I posted about fashion; high fashion, independent fashion, fun fashion, kids fashion, and much more just related to fashion. It was my job, so I do have an excuse. When I walked away from that life over a year ago, I never thought I woud walk into another version of myself, one that I am truly blessed to have.

I accidentally walked into the life of a Montessori school teacher in Manhattan and from the start, felt like I was home. Please do not misunderstand me, I loved what I did. Kick PR was my baby and my life (aside from Elton the Dog, obvs...) and I believed that was my identity. Walking away from that was bittersweet and I wasn't so sure who I was now that I wasn't 'Kate of Kick PR." As fun and adventurous and extraordinary as those years were, I never felt the full heart like I do when I am in the classroom and with my teaching community.
So, instead of funky shoes and dresses and skirts and bags and "outfits," it's backpacks, binders, jeans and a lot of J.Crew. What's starting to matter more is what's inside rather than out, and what I can give back.

So, I've decided to journal here on my blog and track my progress as a very new student teacher. The task that lies ahead is completing a two year Montessori training program in one year. I am still waiting for that one person to say, 'Oh, it's nothing, you'll be fine!" but I have yet to meet that special someone. I'm faced with a year of introducing fun and unique activities for my 3-5 year olds and journaling the entire way through. I'm diving in with my clothes on, whatever they may be.

Here's to the next year!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bridezilla Be Gone

I am not a bridezilla; I can tell you that for sure. But I am starting to understand how a bridezilla is born. Over the months I have been trying to coordinate all of the pieces for my wedding in August. Going into this process, I had all sorts of ideas on how this was going to unfold. Whether I liked it or not, I was being willful and I want what I want when I want it. One little hiccup would set me off in a tailspin and believe it or not, I did stomp my feet once or twice in front of mom.  I got a glimpse of that gross person, and I didn’t approve.

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This past year in my life has been a lesson in letting go and having faith that no matter what, I will be OK and everything will work out. I look back on the last year or more and did not plan any of it, which helps me in this wedding planning process. 

I used to believe that when things didn't work out or my plans never came to fruition, it was going to be a disaster. Today, I believe that there is something else better down the road that I don't even know about, and that is the reason my “plans” fell through.

This has been something I have been thinking about a lot and I needed to tell on myself. For example, Today I can’t find someone to do my hair and I’m obsessing. When I say out loud and to others, “It’s gonna be fine, “ I truly believe. So, thanks for listening!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Onwards and upwards

Onwards and upwards were the words I spoke as I walked away from an amazing job, at an amazing company, in the field I am experienced in and had just given my notice. Onwards and upwards were the only words I could think as I was frozen with fear yet awakened and excited about the unknown prospects that lied ahead.

For nine years, I worked in one field: Fashion Public Relations. And for those nine years I had great success,  a lot of fun, and beautiful and eye opening experiences. I also experienced great stress, anxiety and depletion upon the close of those nine years.   I had designed myself to be one person, or so I thought, and that was what I did. I did PR.  I could write, I could network, I was creative, but in the end, I did PR.


When I walked away from Kick PR in the summer of 2010, I was in the search of the same job, but within a company.  I was done being a business owner, and to be honest, I was not in love with my career anymore. For a while I felt deep down in the core of my body that I didn't want to be “Kate, the PR gal. “  However, when I let go of my company, I didn't know what else I was supposed to do, and I didn't think I had the luxury to “figure it out.” So I went on interviews and found the “perfect job” for my experience and my level. On paper, this job and company was amazing. I somehow detached from myself and put this job up on a pedestal because it was going to solve everything. I didn’t listen to what was going on in my body and my soul.

The day I stepped foot in the doors I was flooded with doubt and uncertainty, not something you want to feel on your first days of a new job. I wasn't listening to my gut. I am a gut girl. My whole entire life I have gone with my gut and it has never let me down. Should’ve gone with the gut.  I cried every day for the two weeks I was there. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I lost myself because I knew that this wasn't my path. Two weeks doesn't sound like a lot, but I tell you the truth when I say I cried non stop. I went into the bathroom and sobbed. I went outside and sobbed. I came home and slumped down on the bathroom floor and sobbed, choking out desperate cries for an answer to those who are close to me. My family was so worried, and I was worried.  This job wasn't solving my problems it was adding them.

It had nothing to do with the company; they are a fantastic company and very hard working. I met some great people there and the opportunities were limitless. I meant it when I said, “It’s not you, it’s me.”  I am never going to get anywhere in this world if my sun can’t shine through (cheezy I know, but it’s true).

So, onwards and upwards was the only thing I could say.  I have moved onwards and depending on what you're referring to, upwards. 

I spent a few months struggling to find my next career. I was desperately searching for anything on CraigsList and almost  took a job with a similar company because sometimes think I am insane. But, the gut saved me.  If I had been on the other side of me, coming home every day to someone with no work and no clue what the next step was, I might have left. But my fiancĂ© stayed the course. He was calm, and quiet and supportive. He humored me when I blurted out “Maybe I should go back to school!” For what he asked. “Oh, um, I don’t know. Just to go, you know?”  Eric, you saved me and you continue to save me everyday with your unending love and support so thank you thank you thank you.  You my friend, have seen way to many tears for someone you are about to marry.

I began thinking about teaching, which had always tapped on the back of my head. I wasn't sure what kind of teaching, what age, where, what subject. I soon realized that there wasn't any high school student who would take me seriously when I stood up in class and said “Um, hey guys! I'm Kate! Lets get in a group and talk about our favorite things to do!” Yeah no.

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My inspiration came from right under my nose: my nieces Avery and Annika. Sometimes these girls feel like my own, and I’ve naturally taken on that role with them when needed.  Avery and Annika attend Montessori school and I didn't realize it but over the past two years  I’ve been learning the Montessori practices by osmosis.  WAIT! That’s it!

So, in an effort to keep you reading, I will wrap this up. The short of the long is that I ended up meeting with the head of a well known and highly regarded Montessori school in Manhattan. I told myself that I was going to just lay all the cards out and see what I get. That is indeed what I did.  I went in, I observed a class, and met with the head honcho.  I put it all out there. I told her I ran a business, I have no teaching experience, but I am desperately in love with my nieces and have been so moved by the little people they have turned into ever since entering Montessori. I asked her to keep me in mind for any part time or volunteer opportunities.

The next day I was told there was an assistant teaching position opening in the new year.  I accepted the job and it’s been a wonderful and refreshing few weeks. At the end of the day I am thrilled to be helping shape little people. I enjoy their perspective and it also helps me have perspective on my life; that it’s too short and precious to worry worry worry. I am on a totally new journey.  I have also found that my skills over the years are not on the back burner, I am actually using them every day in new and creative ways. I am where I am supposed to be, which right now is on the floor building blocks with little Eddie.