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Certified PreK-6. Masters in Child Development. Advocate for play, teacher & children choice, & the family's voice. Believe in volunteering as social justice.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The View from the Bus: #Kinderchat Blog Challenge, Day 15

It's Wordless Wednesday at the #Kinderchat Blog Challenge: "What's the view from your window?" 

This is the view from the bus window as I leave a staff meeting at the Children's Museum.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This Week in the Classroom: #Kinderchat Blog Challenge, Day 14

Today's #Kinderchat Blog Challenge asks us what is one thing we want to do with our class this week.

Well, I have three different groups per week, so I have three different things instead of one.

For my Monday studio group, I wanted to engage new students from the morning 3's group in their "beautiful alphabet" project that 3 of their classmates initiated in November.  ....And I did! 2 students who had never ventured into the studio space excitedly came in asking which letters were left to build.  Apparently all of the children in this class had been sharing their excitement over the "beautiful alphabet" and the idea that they are building something that will be a gift to their classroom.

For my Tuesday/Wednesday young 2's group, I want to help my two newest children and their families feel confident and ready to separate.  We've all been working to build trust, relationships, and comfort in the space and the children are ready.  The parents are ready too...everyone just needs a little extra love and support.

For my Thursday/Friday group of 2's, I am looking forward to seeing their reactions to the new dramatic play invitation.  My co-teacher and I worked with the other teaching team we share space with and re-imagined our dramatic play into a grocery store.  We have canvas bags from local stores, a conveyer belt and cash register, shopping carts, and items from around the children's homes.  I snuck in and saw the 2/3's group using the space today and they were so busy.  It was fantastic.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Movin' and Groovin' (in my slippers): #Kinderchat Blog Challenge, Days 12 and 13

Oops! I missed yesterday's blog challenge.  So here is a short bit for yesterdays and the a little list for today's #Kinderchat Challenge.

Yesterday's prompt asked what our "go to" piece of clothing was.  I would have to say that my slippers when the top spot at the moment.  I dislike socks and shoes and generally prefer to be barefoot.  Obviously that isn't possible at work or in the winter.  So I compromise by wearing slippers; I have a pair stashed at school, at the museum, and at home.

Okay! Here's my Monday List- 5 Songs that Make me Dance (and Sing):

1. Big Parade (and Hoy Hey) by The Lumineers

2. Wake Me Up by Aloe Blacc

3. Let Her Go by Passenger

4. I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons

5. King and Lionheart by Of Monsters and Men

Saturday, January 11, 2014

#Kinderchat Blog Challenge, Days 10 and 11

I sort of spaced out on writing my #Kinderchat Blog Challenge post yesterday.  So this is a 2 in 1...yesterdays would have been fairly short anyway.

Day 10: If I won the lottery I would....
Honestly? I don't have any grand dreams about what I would do with a lottery windfall.  Rather, I would pay of all of my (many) dollars in student loans, put some aside so that I would actually have a savings, and then donate the rest to the volunteer organization I lead programs through.

Day 11: A book that always gets me teary...
Seeing as I cry at the drop of the hat this should be easy...but I also read a ton of books, which makes it hard to narrow it down.  I always cry when Beth dies in Little Women and when Professor Dumbledore (not to mention Dobby the Elf!) dies in the Harry Potter series; basically all of book 7 makes me cry.  Of course Where the Red Fern grows makes me sob along with Summer of the Monkeys.

Okay, short and sweet. I will try to make tomorrow's post have more substance.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Before the School Day Begins: #Kinderchat Blog Challenge, Day 9

Today's #Kinderchat Blog Challenge asks us to share our morning...before we go to school.

My typical school day starts early....alarm goes off at 5:30. (Yes, unfortunately you read that right.)

I'm out of the house by 6:30 so that I can walk the 15-20 minutes to the commuter train. On that train for 20 minutes.  Fortunately the train station is next to Starbucks.  Walk another 10 minutes to school.

At school by 7:30. Depending on the day I have a varying amount of set up to do.  Mondays mean setting up the studio for 2 or 3 classes and their particular projects or setting up the studio for a parent-child exploration day.  Tuesdays and Wednesdays mean getting the studio turned around so I can teach  small group of 2 year olds in it.  Thursdays and Fridays mean transforming the young 3's room into a space for my larger group of young 2s to have class.  There's a lot of running around and setting materials up in an inviting manner.

By 8:20 it's a quick trip to the coffee maker, a check in with either my co-teacher or the other teachers,  a check in with the office manage to see if any children are going to be out for the day, a "fight" for a turn to use the ONE grown up restroom (another teacher and I crack up because it's usually one of us waiting on the other) and then it's off to carpool line by 8:45 to greet the children and families.

 (This is why it takes so long to set up the room each day...)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wordless Wednesday, A Favorite Part of the Classroom: #Kinderchat Blog Challenge, Day 8

It's Wordless Wednesday over at the #Kinderchat Blog Challenge.

Share a photo of your favorite place in your classroom:

(Part of the garden, my outdoor classroom)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Before the End of the Year: #Kinderchat Blog Challenge, Day 7

Day 7 of the #Kinderchat Blog Challenge and I'm going strong! We'll see if I can keep it up once I go back to work tomorrow.  Today we are thinking our class and what we want to do before the end of the year.

For each of the groups of children I work with in the studio, my young 2s, and the families, I have simple wishes before the end of the year.  I want...

To see interests grow and creativities discovered.

To see confidence built.

To see and hear body shaking laughter.

To see messes made.

To see risks taken, both physical and emotional.

To see them fail and try again.

To hear language emerge...all the languages of children.

To see relationships nourished.

To see dancing and singing with abandon.

To seeing personalities emerge.

Monday, January 6, 2014

What's in the Bag: #Kinderchat Blog Challenge, Day 6

Today's #Kinderchat Blog Prompt will be short and sweet; a list asking for 5 things in the bag we take to work with us.  So here are 5 of the many things that are in my bag; some people live out of their car, I live out of a bag.

This is actually my "small bag"...which gives you an idea of how much stuff can be crammed into my large bag!

I always carry a small notebook and pen.  It's easier to write down random ideas or quotes or anything I want to remember in a notebook than my iPad or computer when on the go.

I keep all of my commuter passes and my school key in my bag so they don't go missing the day I'm running late.

My computer is small and light so it generally travels to my jobs with me.  I find it easer to document and send emails on my computer than the shared ones at school.  It also allows me to read my graduate students' papers in my down time. 

I always have a small bottle of lotion for my hands.  Lately I'm really enjoying Bath and Body Works' stress relief. 

Mints and pain reliever...can't leave home with out them. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Would I Be Brave Enough: #Kinderchat Blog Challenge, Day 5

On this frigid Sunday evening, the #Kinderchat Blog Challenge question asks in what historical era would we live if given the choice?  I wish that I had the opportunity to live in 1960's America.

As I've thought about this prompt throughout the day, my mind kept circling back to a video I watched a couple of years ago in a course centered around the social and historical factors of early childhood care and education.  The video was a documentary of the beginning of Head Start  and Lyndon B. Johnson's so called "War on Poverty" in the 1960s.  As with any federal undertaking, Head Start's government founders had their own political agendas, however it is the conviction and passion of the teachers and mothers that I observed in the video that hit me.  These amazing women took a political agenda and shaped it to serve children and families.  At the same time, in 1966, 3 amazingly smart women founded my much loved graduate school, Erikson Institute.  This was a time when the importance of early childhood education was barely on anyone's radar and yet a host of teachers, parents, and community members thoughtfully and adamantly put child development on the map. 

At the same time, the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing.  Rosa Parks reused to move to the back of a bus, children like Ruby Bridges bravely demanded equal educational opportunities, Martin Luther King Junior was inspiring change, and young people across the nation were standing up for what they believed in.  The 1960s were a powerful time of activism and belief in social justice.  This was a time that set the stage for change, that laid the groundwork for social protests and community voice, that ordinary people sparked extraordinary change.

The type of change that shakes people and a nation to their core.  The type of change that people die for.  The type of change that inspires the future.  And I wonder if I would have been daring enough, confident enough, willful enough, brave enough to participate in that amount of social change?  

I hope so.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

When I Was Little: #Kinderchat Blog Challenge, Day 4

Today's #Kinderchat Blog Challenge's prompt asks the age old question, "when you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?"

Do you expect me to say teacher?  I bet you do, it would only seem natural since I have been working with children from the time I was 12.  Honestly? I'm not sure I ever really wanted to be a teacher until undergrad and even then I wavered during student teaching.  It's a lot of commitment, picking a label to define one's self! And yet, here I am, teaching...but with my broader definition of teaching.

Anyways, I am meandering.  As a young child, I wanted to be Madonna.  I spent hours dancing around and singing, "I am a cheerio girl".  When I was 10, I wanted to be a novelist.  I even asked for (and received!) a typewriter for Christmas.  In 8th grade, I wanted to be a radiologist for all of a year. I can't even remember why; I know we took one of those fill in the bubble aptitude tests and mine said I should work in the medical field, but I hate blood.  In 11th grade, we were required to take the ASVAP (military entrance exam...very small rural school) alongside the ACT and I scored very high and began to receive endless recruitment calls...thought it would save me from making a career decision, but quickly decided that I'm not the military type of girl.

And then I graduated and needed to declare a major so I went with education.  And I still felt a little unsettled, right up until I found the masters program at Erikson and realized that there was a broad range of things I could do in the best interest of young children and families that wasn't necessarily teaching.

So there you have it, how I accidentally became, and enjoy, being a teacher.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Best of 2013: #Kinderchat Blog Challenge, Day 3

Today's #Kinderchat blog prompt is to share the best thing (s) about 2013.  2013 was a challenging year, intellectually, professionally, and personally.  It was a year that pushed me to reflect deeply and stretch beyond my comfort zone.

Within those challenges, however, were a few notable high points.

I led my 6th Chicago Cares Serve-a-Thon, this time at a "VIP" site where I gave my orientation speech in front of Chelsea Clinton.  I will continue to fight for social justice and advocacy through volunteering into 2014 and beyond. 

After 3 intense years of study and reflection I graduated with my Master's Degree in Child Development.

With a lot of kicking and screaming I turned 30 and celebrated by painting and drinking with friends.

I began to re-investigate my creative interests through book making and rediscovering my guitar.

I started my current teaching job as an alterista and 2s teacher. 

Here's hoping that 2014 brings more moments of joy and hopefully some traveling.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Resolution: #Kinderchat Blog Challenge, Day 2

Today's prompt for the #kinderchat blog challenge is to write about one resolution we have for the year.

I saw this penguin staring down a rubber duck at the aquarium.
I love his confidence and the fact that he's not backing down.

I'm not one for rash resolutions just because it's the new year; but I am for creating change, reflection and continued improvement.  There are several things that I have recently begun or am planning to start/get back into, but ultimately they all contribute to my one resolution, something that I have been reflecting on and working upon for the past year.

This year, I am resolving to try to be confident.  

I'm hoping to do this in ways both big and small that add up to me beginning to trust myself and my decisions and not to agonize over every choice after the fact.  Change doesn't come suddenly, it takes work and reflection and messing up and trying again.  I know that there is a lot of work I need to do with the taking care of me; to begin I am going to (try) to stop apologizing for things that don't need an apology because I'm quite guilty of saying "I'm sorry" when someone else bumps into me or when someone is angry near me or.....the list is embarrassingly long.  I'm also going to try to be more confident in my casual, day to day interactions with people.  Like many people, I am not overly happy with my physical appearance and, as a result, I often look down when walking down the street or display nervous body postures when talking to those I don't know well-all of which come across as slightly aloof, not a reflection I want to give.

As I work hard to show better confidence in small ways, I also want to work on my professional confidence.  In a detached way, I know that I understand child development and working with families and young children deeply and am able to apply this understanding in my work and in professional conversations.  But, in the day to day, I second guess myself constantly.  Especially when confronted.  On a practical level, I need to be more confident in what I know and do so that the families I work with are able to feel secure in our relationships.  On a professional level, confidence in my knowledge and practice is necessary for the eventual direction I want to take in the field of early childhood care and education.  On a political level, teachers of young children need to be confident in what we do in a way that allows us to defend play, children and families, and our profession.

This is my resolution for change.  One I hope is realistic and one I know will be a lot of hard work.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Photo to Represent 2013: #Kinderchat Blog Challenge, Day 1

In an effort to bring blogging back to my reflective practice, I'm planning to participate in the Kinderchat 30 Day Blog Challenge as a way to reinvigorate this blog.  Make sure to check out the blogs of the other wonderful early childhood educators participating in the challenge!

Day 1: Wordless (mostly) Wednesday: A Photo (s) to represent 2013

2013: Attempting to Defy Gravity