Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander. or: If Two Children Have to Learn English, We Should Have to Learn Some Mandarin

This year, I have 2 students who immigrated from China over the summer. I can't imagine the stress they must be under. To leave a place where you know people, speak the language, understand the culture, and to up and move somewhere totally different. I am not sure if they came from a city or a small community, but if they came from a city... well add that culture shock to it! Because the province I live in has under 200,000 people province wide!
Today I decided if they have to learn English, well we can learn some Mandarin. Please don't ask me why it's taken this long for that epiphany to hit me, but at least it came! Our Kindergarten math outcomes go up to the number 10, so I thought we could at least learn to count to 10. Well, let me tell you! The boy just stared at the video- stared like, "they are speaking my language for once!" and my little girl giggled and giggled at my pronunciation.  She would just say, "No Mrs. Marshall! No!" which reminds me of my daughter when I try to speak French (No, mom, just don't even try...). All in all, I thought the video worked well. The English speaking students enjoyed trying a new language, and the Mandarin speaking students had something they could (finally!) identify with.
Well, riding high off the success of this, I decided I needed to learn how to say "hurry up!" in Mandarin as my boy likes to take his own sweet time getting undressed from recess. So, I Googled it, practiced it, and waited for my moment... It finally came... He was dancing around just enjoying life and I said, in Mandarin, hurry up! Well! I have never seen him react with such speed. He stopped, looked at me, and went right to work!
Little did I realize that this would open the door to a whole new relationship. It is customary for our Chinese immigrants to take an English name (I don't know why), so my friend tried to teach me to pronounce his Chinese name (I got a lot of No Mrs. Marshall, NO!). But the best part was the end of the day as we were lined up to go out to the busses. He stopped me and explained, very carefully, how to say, "See you tomorrow!" in Mandarin. And then he tried to teach me "car" -he loves cars. Loves them!
What did all of this teach me? All it took was a 2 minute video of counting to 10 to open up a whole new relationship with 2 of my students. Two students I have been trying to connect with since September. I've been planning to speak with the parents of these two, hoping to set up a time where they can come and speak to the Kindergarten classes about China, moving to Canada, and just some really cool Chinese things. This has just spurred this idea on. I'm looking forward to parent teacher interviews next week.
And tomorrow? I have a feeling that tomorrow, I will learn many new words.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

So this happened today

So, this happened today. During learning centre time I told 2 of the students that they could read the book on my teacher cart if they wanted to. The best part is this picture is in no way staged or teacher directed. I told 2 students they could read a book and soon that turned into a small group of children taking turns being the teacher and reading the book with the class.

Teaching kindergarten, or any of the primary grades isn't always easy- this morning and this afternoon were worlds away from each other behaviour-wise. But teaching primary is always rewarding and fulfilling.
What is my "assessment of learning" here? Well, I can tell you that these students met 6 of our Speaking and Listening outcomes, and 7 of our Reading and Viewing outcomes. And they didn't even need me to tell them to do it!
Damn I love kindergarten!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Teachers Are People Too!


It's another #kinderchat blog challenge! And I am up for it! Especially since it's about my favourite topic- ME! OK, just kidding, just kidding! I do think this is such an important topic for teachers- who are we? What is our story? We spend so much of our time telling our students stories, telling the stories of the day in the classroom, because teaching is such an all-encompassing profession.  It's time others knew about the Real Lives of Teachers!

Just this past month, in Hollywood, there was a big photo-leak scandal that affected the lives of 100 or more actresses (someone broke into their iCloud accounts and leaked their photo's - many nudes- online). It got me thinking about what would happen if, instead of actresses, these hacked accounts were teachers? I think, in many cases, those teachers would not only lose their jobs, but they would have no careers. Why? Because of the old prejudices about teacher's behaviour's. There are plenty of stories to back up my assumption here (I am thinking of one in particular of a jr. high school teacher who posed for Playboy before she was a teacher and was fired when her school board found out about it).

I have been out for dinner, or have been seen coming out of the liquor store and had parents side-eye me- because heaven forbid, a Kindergarten teacher, who is obviously of legal age might purchase an alcoholic beverage (one teacher I know was actually sent a note on Monday asking her if she enjoyed her 12 pack!).
Those are just 2 examples. How many of us have had the "how's Johnny doing" conversation in the most unexpected places? My friend was in a terrible accident. As she was being rushed into X-Ray at the local hospital to see if she had severed her spinal chord (no I am not joking), one of the X-Ray techs asked if she was a teacher at our school. She said yes, and the tech actually asked if she knew if her son would be in my friends class in the fall! And when she went in a week later for a follow up E-Ray, was asked if she knew again! This same friend was on the phone calling for a sub that night- because ONLY TEACHERS have to do this stuff! Here she is, in the emergency room on a stretcher calling for a sub. Another teacher friend thought she was having a heart attack and called for a sub from the emergency room. We can't even get sick or have accidents without worrying about our class and students. This is who teachers are! This is what we do!
Our school calendar has been shifted a bit to accommodate family lives better. Which is great, except it doesn't help families of teachers! We can't take the day off after a holiday because we aren't allowed to extend our vacation time. Yes, we have "summers off" and "Christmas off" and "Spring/March break", but we don't get paid for them. And my children don't go to college/university in the summer. So, in order to get them home for holidays, or watch them graduate, I am forced to do so without pay, take them back early, or not see them graduate.
So, yes, I am looking forward to reading about these real people we call teachers. Real people with real lives and real stories that I know will inspire us. October is always such a great month, now it will be even better!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sand Play

Just felt like posting some pictures of my sand area, because I am in love with sand play. So much learning happens there from math: volume, measurement; to science: gravity, flow; and so, so much more. It's easy to make it something special. In order to make mine "local" I have added sand from a local beach, drift wood, and local sandstone rocks. For inspiration, I have pictures of rock formations like Stonehenge, as well as pictures of Andy Goldsworthy art up on the walls.
Any suggestions? Let me know! If you get any inspiration, fill your boots!