March 11, 2016
As a reading interventionist working in kindergarten, first, and second grade, my daily teaching requires persistence and patience. Progress is often slow. I wish I could speed up their learning, but when the moments sparkle, I become excited. My heart races and inside I am jumping up and down. I cheer with the kids, give high fives, fist bumps, and sometimes a “whoohoo”!
I have a couple of kids who I can’t get too excited with. They would clam up, so I usually just smile. One little girl stole my heart the first time she hugged me out of the blue. S is unique. When she came last year, she wouldn’t speak to anyone. Then, she began to whisper to friends. Interventions were put in place and we waited. One day as I returned my interactive writing group to their class, she hugged my legs tight. No smile. No words. Just a hug.
This year, she smiles at me. She hugs me. She shares stories. All in whispers.
Daily working with her, I wait on her. She is gaining decoding skills, but her processing is almost double the time of other first graders. I just have to wait. She doesn’t ask for help and we are working on that. Wait time is hard for me, but it provides her with enough time to be the champion of her learning.
I am waiting. I am waiting to hear her real voice.
March 2, 2016
Her name was Miss Smith. She had long, auburn hair flowing down her back. After recess, the girls took turns brushing her hair while she read aloud beautiful, magical words. She was the prettiest teacher in school and she made my heart soar.
Reading was hard. I didn’t like it. Those symbols called letters didn’t make sense to me and the sounds didn’t always go together like others could. Each letter made words hard, and sentences scrambled. After reading a few sentences, I would have to reread them all over; I had no clue what I just read. Just sounds, not words. I labored day after day after day and now I was in third grade.
Reading would have remained a mystery to me if Miss Smith hadn’t labored beside me. Her patience and tenderness made me try, persisting through the awful hardness. Looking back, her dedication and strength was a legacy passed to me. Reading became stories, not a chore.
Today, I learned one of my students moved away. No good-bye, just an absence. I’ve been working with this little girl since kindergarten, summer school included, and her smile warmed my heart. She was sunshine with hugs and special notes. Daily I was battling alongside her to make the letter-symbols make sense of story. She was conquering and her understanding broadened. Story was real and her love of reading broadened. The legacy Miss Smith bestowed to me, I gifted to her. My hope is her heart is warmed with the courage, strength, and vivaciousness when she thinks of me. Hopefully, the legacy of reading will be gifted on.
March 28, 2015
The distance between the Title I room and the first grade hallway is looong, especially for little legs. When my room was changed this year, I began pondering the amount of time it would take to walk, the children’s behavior, and the instructional time. Normally, my assistants and I service small groups, ranging from 1 – 4 students each. Interactive Writing with first graders is different. We have sixteen students for the initial teaching, modeling sentences and word parts. Midway during the thirty minute segment, we separate into groups for practice of the sentence(s) just modeled. The effects of this writing time has been immensely effective.
But the walk.
Time is precious. A sense of urgency fuels me.
I began to walk backwards, using the time to practice sight words. I have command of their attention and have their brains thinking. We use hands in the air techniques and little chants at times to remember the tricky “heart words”, those words you must know by heart to spell. Thankfully, the first part of the long hallway houses the cafeteria, principal’s office, and front office. I introduce the words and we practice chorally. As we pass individual classrooms, whisper voices are initiated and individual students are called on to answer.
So if you come to Pierceton Elementary, you might see me coming down the hall walking backwards with a group of students learning.
March 14, 2015
Thanks to Ruth Ayres and Ann Voskamp, daily I search for celebrations. Little nuggets of joy permeate my day.
Moo likes to be where I am, even when I am reviewing books and blogging.
1. Moo, my kitten-cat, has been my pal these past weeks of recuperation. He loves to look out the window and observe the world, he chases balls with vivaciousness, and lingers nearby when I am writing. Moo makes me smile.
2. I did a happy dance with this discovery. I have over 50 books that I have savored with sticky-notes of noticings that I have not blogged about. Now to post them. 🙂
From one of my first grade boys: “I miss you for a long time, Mrs. Gensch.” Makes me smile!
3. Children’s notes encourage me. We make a difference in the lives of the children we teach. Or in my case, as well as the students I don’t teach. I have had several kids send cards stating they miss hearing my laugh. One third grader, who I do not service through Title I, said, “The hallways are quiet without you. I want to hear your laugh again.” The days are stressful, but I can choose to share joy.
March 7, 2015
I have been teaching at Pierceton Elementary School for 21 years. Wesley had just turned 1 in July before I began that August. All three of my children attended PES. My coworkers aren’t just a community of teachers, but a staff of family. It has been no surprise they have given me encouragement through my surgery.
Lots of goodies to bring me cheer.
As a pick-me-up, a sunshine box and bag were delivered. Cute notes from kindergarteners to third graders made me chuckle. But I honestly think my coworkers think I am bored. As family is, practical jokes are to be played.
A smile led to a chuckle.
Glow glasses to illuminate my reading.
The chuckle continued, getting louder as I continued to pull items from the bag.
Flarp the noise making putty
Tim came in from the other room to see what was causing the fuss and just shook his teenage head. I had lost it. My laugh roared loud and long as I held up the Whoopi Cushion. I couldn’t talk; just pointed.
I laughed and laughed until my stomach hurt. Self-inflating.
I do believe my coworkers think I am bored and need something to entertain me during my recuperation days. They certainly know how to make a girl smile. A spiderman paddle ball! Just what I wanted!!
All in fun. A paddle ball too to exercise my hands.
So if you’re bored, come on over. There’s more in the box. I’m sure we can find something delightful to do. 🙂
September 30, 2014
Reflections from the beginning of this school year …
Teaching and learning should be filled with joy.
When I decide to smile and be positive, students reciprocate.
I’m not going to always like the kids I work with. This doesn’t mean I have to let them know it.
One kid in group drives me crazy; he doesn’t have a fruitful past. I decided to enjoy him PRIOR to small group instruction. Because I am positive, he can’t wait to come group. Me: I don’t mind him so much anymore.
Kids love books. They just need to have someone to cheer them on.
I like sharing books with kids. Correction: I LOVE sharing books with kids. I believe my excitement ignites interest in students.
I miss reading a story to a class.
I realized my heart hurts when I am not able to read to children. Thus my blog has been silent.
Intervening with children is hard work. I smile a lot.
A question that drives me: what am I doing to help kids get from where they are to where they need to be?
I want to create joy in learning.