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!