Friday, August 12, 2016

A Walk Down Memory Lane...

My first class of second graders are starting college this year. That's right, they are freshmen in college. As they settle into their dorm rooms and meet new friends I can't help but imagine each one of their faces. They will forever remain frozen in time as 7 year olds  Even the ones I have seen recently. I imagine them meeting their roommates and I hear their tiny voices, "Can I play?"

I can't help but laugh when I think out Amit who got writers block during writer's workshop. While "thinking" he tore the eraser off his pencil and stuck it up his nose. It got stuck so far up his nose that he got sent home and had to go to the hospital to have it removed. Does he still rip erasers off pencils? Will that be the "most embarrassing moment" story that he tells his fraternity?

I think about Josh. The little boy that kept me up at night with worry about his home life. Who struggled with dyslexia. Who could outrun anyone in the grade. I find myself wondering what happened to him. The same worry that kept me up at night 12 years ago lingers today. Is he going to college? Is he happy? These kids weren't just in my class, they became my kids. Each of them still holds a special place in my heart.

My second class will be seniors. This is the class that will go down in history as my favorite class ever: My Chicken Nuggets. I look down at their class picture and each face tells a story. There was Floppsy who had a haircut that bounced as she walked. Who was still learning English and defaulted to saying, "I forgot" for everything.  

There was Jacob who believed he was a superhero and told me that his mom's alter ego was Wonder-Woman. I often found the Wonder-Woman logo on his papers. Is his mom is still his super hero? I hope she so!

There are some I have watched grow over the years by keeping in touch with their parents.

There are others that moved away. The ones I will always wonder about. That was the year of Katrina. We were blessed to have Kyran join our class mid year. He was tiny and full of spunk. My kids embraced him with patience and love. Because of his spunk, the Chicken Nuggets were born. I will never forget the day they were lined up waiting to enter Art class when Kyran told the boy in front of him, "Man, youse a chicken nugget." Confused the kid raised his hand and said, "Um, Ms. Ransom, he called me a chicken nugget." I turned to look at Kyran. He responded by saying "What teach? He's all white meat!" There was a pause. Then everyone in line just started to laugh.  The kids didn't really understand what he was trying to say. One boy piped up from the back of the line saying, "I like chicken nuggets!" Thus the Chicken Nugget was born. It became a term of endearment. It became our class mascot. The kids embraced their place as my "nuggets." At the end of the year they created chicken nuggets as keepsakes in Art. A parent recently told me that her daughter still has her chicken nugget in her keepsake box. And you know what? So do I.

These kids that I taught 11 and 12 years ago will forever remain frozen in my heart as 7 year olds. When I see pictures of them all grown up it makes me feel proud...proud and old.

I may not make much money but knowing that there is a senior in high school that has a chicken nugget in her keepsake drawer means I make a difference.

It's about more than learning to read. It's about the relationships. I have learned more from them then they possibly could have learned from me.

And now as I step into my 12th year as a Plano teacher I look forward to making new memories with a new set of kids. Kids I will laugh with. Kids I will lose sleep over. Kids I will love. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

You're a STAR Assembly

Our last assembly was a success! Our 3rd graders performed a skit and dance about the upcoming STAAR test. I am so proud of how hard our kiddos worked to bring this vision in my head to life. 

One of the highlights of the skit was when the kids got to see the dream sequence... our very own teachers performed a little STAAR pick me up... "Gonna Pass The STAAR."  The fun part for me is when I hear students singing the song in the hallway days weeks later. 

These videos and memories make this thespian proud. One third grader told me that she felt inspired to go to Broadway someday. Another third grader told me that performing at the assembly was the best day of his life. You can't get better than that!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Baby Steps in Spring

Welcome back from Spring Break! 

It seems like a cruel joke that daylight savings would have us lose an hour the day before we start back from break. The zombies  kids in the hallway clearly struggled to get to bed on time and wake up for school this morning. 

This is a crazy time in schools because we are headed fast and furious into the season of STAAR. As the weather warms, kids are beginning to feel the summer itch. Teachers are putting on their best song and dance to keep the students engaged through the next 2 1/2 months. 

We have an assembly next week and the theme will be STAR. Not STAAR, just STAR. We are going to encourage our kids to use a growth mindset and be a STAR as they tackle the rest of the school year and upcoming STAAR test. I have some 3rd graders performing a skit and dance about the STAAR test. When I asked how the test made them feel the room went silent and then a few kids murmured how scared they were. 

Soapbox: There is something seriously wrong with putting that much pressure on our kids. 

Instead of dwelling on the unfairness of the test, we can only try to lift their spirits and instill in them the belief that if they work hard and do their best, that is all that truly matters. 

It's not unlike my 3 year old that suffers from separation anxiety. I could chose to harp on her for not fully participating in the birthday party she attended yesterday, or I could recognize the courage it took for her to walk across the gym and sit by her friends after expressing how nervous she felt being in a new place. If I take that moment to encourage her and congratulate her on her effort, she grows. If at that moment I grow frustrated with her for choosing not to participate in the parachute game, she feels failure. We must recognize the effort our students make toward a goal. We cannot expect them all to jump right in a join the game or pass the test. We must build them up and help them to see their accomplishments, no matter how many baby steps it takes.

Just as my daughter taught me this weekend when she looked at me with hope filled eyes and asked if she did a great job at the party... I have a choice in how I respond. My response can make or break her. I asked her how she felt she did- very important. Then, I used the opportunity to tell her that I know she felt nervous and I saw that she used her courage to walk away from "safety" and join the group. Her smile said it all, she had won. She didn't play many of the games or participate in a lot of the activities, but to her, just walking away and not running back into the arms of safety was enough. Did the parachute game matter at all? No. What mattered was that she tried something that was uncomfortable for her and that's a win every time. This is no different from our students academic successes daily. Are they taking risks? Are they challenging themselves to try a little more? That's a win. 

So here we go... off to the races.... let's hope the real message we are trying to send is read loud and clear. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

One Word 2016

If you happened to hop on Twitter at the start of the year you were bound to see #oneword2016 trending a few times. It seems like instead of resolutions people are jumping on the idea to chose a word to make your central focus of 2016. 

If you haven't heard about One Word, check it out!

The staff and students at Christie Elementary are no exception. Mr. Steele challenged each teacher to come up with their one word for 2016. 

I asked my 3rd grade IE group about resolutions and goals.Their experience with resolutions was pretty limited to their parents stating that they resolve to hit the gym or eat healthy in 2016. I told them about the One Word challenge and allowed them to explore examples by looking at what their teachers had chosen and why. Then, they were tasked with writing about their own personal one word for 2016 and turning their paragraph into a video either using the green screen or Chatterpix. 

One Word Example

The kids enjoied their experience and have really stuck to their words. It's always nice to hear another student say, "Remember, your word is helpful. Will you help me?" That is usually followed by a slight eye roll and then a smile, "sure."

With only 1 month down and 11 to go it's not too late to chose a word yourself!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The holiday season is upon us! This truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Students are gearing up for Winter parties, Hour of Code, an assembly, and a 2 week break. Many kids are busying themselves with preparation for the return of the big guy in the red suit.

Elves have popped up in homes and classrooms around town to monitor behavior and provide daily entertainment.

The end of 2015 is quickly approaching... calendars are completely full with end of year activities, appointments, and celebrations.

Stress levels are high but attitudes remain chipper.

December in an elementary school is a pretty amazing place to be!