I complained in an earlier post about all of the pollen but I sure am enjoying my azaleas. As you can see, they are just beginning to bloom.

We have a two acre lot that is very wooded so it is hard to get a sunny shot. I thought you might enjoy seeing them. I spent the Easter break raking leaves and putting down mulch  in my yard while the students in my class went to Disney world, cruised around Turks and Caicos or skied in Colorado. That's the difference in teaching in a private versus public school. While they spent the five day break listening to enchanting tribal music in an unfamiliar culture, I got to hear my back door neighbor's dogs bay at the moon or anything else that caught their attention. While one student explored centuries old open air markets, I shopped at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.  While another student and her family got to curl their toes in the pink sandy beaches, fancy shops, and world-class golf courses of Bermuda, I got to sit on my screened porch and get lost in a book I won from Janet Ruth's blog Along The Way. Not that I am complaining. A five day Easter break is like a little slice of heaven!

Did you go anywhere exciting for Easter break?

It's Friday Follow!!! Thanks for stopping by. If you follow my blog, I will return the favor and follow yours. Have a great day. And now, for another adventure in kindergarten!

Every year, I like to have a teddy bear parade and contest centering around a bear theme. We give out blue ribbons for the silliest, the funniest, and the smartest bear just to name a few. One year we had an exceptional array of teddy bears. There were large ones, small ones, glamorous ones, and even some wearing local college team jerseys. We even had an Elvis teddy bear. As the children excitedly entered the classroom with their teddy bears dangling at their sides, I noticed one child's bear was much worn. One arm was  about to fall off and was literally hanging by a few threads. When another child commented, "That is an ugly teddy bear", the child who brought it in replied "I know. But I don't care. I love him anyway! Buddy sleeps with me every night! I can't go to sleep without him."

Since I had begun working in a private Christian school, it gave me an idea for a teachable moment. The children came in  and sat down with their bears for our morning meeting.  I told them that I wold give them each a chance to introduce their beloved bears before we did the calendar. When it came time for the child with the much loved little teddy bear to introduce his, I held it up. "I think D..'s bear might be the way some of us appear to God." I said. "But you know what boys and girls, he loves us even when we are old and worn like D's bear. God doesn't care if we have fancy clothes or a big house or even a brand car. He doesn't care if we are old and wrinkled . He wants us to know that just because someone may not look like us or have as nice a house, we are all precious in His sight." One little girl looked up  and asked  "Does God ever get mad and not love us if we are mean to somebody?" I assured them that He did not but that it hurts His heart. "You mean we NEVER have to be scared that God won't love us?" asked a little boy I will refer to as Sam. Never, I emphasized. "Even if we do something really bad" asked another? I told them that God loves us even then. "I get it! " the little girl replied “Like when we break a lamp and we get scared that Mommy won’t love us, but she still does. My Mom said that some day we will all be in heaven together with God and it is a beautiful place."

Sam looked at her and said " Well, if everybody wants to go to heaven so bad, how come nobody ever wants to die?"

 Anyone have a good explanation that a kindergartner would understand? If you do, please share it with this kindergarten teacher!

This week I am participating in Alphabet Thursday sponsored by Off On My Tangent!The letter this week is the Letter L! I am going to help you Learn how to talk to your child's teacher during a parent-teacher conference! It matters very Little whether this is a regularly scheduled conference or you are Longing to discuss a particular issue with a teacher. Let's Look at ways that will help you get the answers to your questions and that you get to share any needed information that might make school Less stressful for your child!

Prior to the conference, make a list:

List everything that you want to ask the teacher as well as anything that you want to bring up.

Listen to your child prior to the conference.  Tell your child that you have a conference scheduled and ask  if there is anything that your child would like you to talk about with his or her teacher.

Look for ways to start the conference off to a good start. Thank the teacher for anything good that you have noticed that has helped your child improve.

Let the teacher know about anything outside of school that would be helpful for him or her to know about any family dynamics that might be impacting your child's performance at school. Examples might include divorce, undue stress due to a family illness, etc.

Level with the teacher without losing your cool.

Let yourself be aware of the time factor once you arrive. Be sure to have your list of things you want to cover handy since teachers only have a specific amount of time allotted for each conference.

List anything important in the notes you take during the conference so that once you leave, you can remember what the teacher recommended or said.

Today as I drove to work, I saw a sea of yellow pollen dust an inch thick covering everything from the cars on the road to the sidewalks. Yuck! That spells allergy time for me and a number of my students. Bless their little hearts, many came in today with red and swollen eyes. To make matters worse, it was around 92 degrees outside. At least the humidity hasn't set in yet. As I pulled in to park, I saw where someone had drawn the following on the back windshield of a car through the pollen: Who cares if everything is yellow? The sky is blue! Now that's a positive attitude if I ever saw one.

Once inside, I got settled and looked over my plans. Thinking I had time to run to the restroom before the morning bell rang, I ducked into the bathroom I share with the other kindergarten class. As I came back into the classroom, I saw the other kindergarten teacher doubled over with laughter. The bell had rung and the children were asking where I was. She told them I had gone to join the circus. One little girl responded "No she didn't. She's too old for that! She's 60!  I am not 60........yet! I have four years to go. I am going to have to start using wrinkle cream I guess...sigh.

 Later, as I was walking the children outside for recess, one little boy noticed an outside window that looked like it had been sprayed with mud mixed with pollen. He got all excited and hollered for the other children to come quick. He said "Some giant bird put bird poop all over this window! Come look!" In a minute they were all abuzz about a giant bird that was hovering over our school somewhere. All my students looked a little disappointed when I told them that instead of a bird, it was most likely a blower. It probably happened on the one rainy day when workmen were cleaning up around some construction going on near our building. I heard another child say as we continued walking "Well, it could have been a giant bird! You never know!"

The day pressed on and I had a parent volunteer come in today to help with a writing project we do each month. It is called The Wonder Year. There is a page for each month of the school year where the child can write a sentence and then I put pictures in it so the child will have a memento of his or her kindergarten year. As the parent was helping one child write a sentence in his book, I overheard her ask him " You said it two ways. Which would you prefer to write? Do you want to write "I hunted for eggs at the egg hunt" or "I looked for eggs?" The child thought about it for a minute and said " Which one's shorter?"  His little face fell when the Mom told him that the words are both the same length so it didn't really matter. I couldn't help chuckling.

As the day ended and I was headed to my car for the journey home, another teacher kindly pointed out to me that the back of my pants were covered with yellow pollen! I guess when I sat down on a bench during recess, I forgot to brush off the pollen. How kind of him to tell me after carpool, lunch, and two conferences  were over. I guess I paraded around with the yellow imprint of a bench on my backside for half the day. Oh well, what do you expect from a kindergarten teacher!

It is hard to believe that we only have about seven more weeks of school this year. Time flies when you are having fun. I remember one year when the school year was drawing to a close. It was the last day of school and one of my little charges came up to give me one last hug. I told her that she was going to have so much fun the next year in first grade and that she would absolutely love her new teacher. She smiled at me and started for the door, then turned and said "But I will still love you!" She wanted me to know that no matter who else was there, I would still have a space in her little heart. 

I passed her jogging in her neighborhood while I was driving home from school today. I guess that is what made me remember her last day in kindergarten. She is a beautiful young woman in high school now. I  waved and pulled over to say hi. I rolled down the window and she shared her latest news with me about how she is doing in school and how much she still thinks fondly of her year in kindergarten. As I wished her well and started to roll my window up to pull away, she said "I will never forget you Mrs. B!". I thought about her words all the way home. They reminded me of how God loves me among the millions of other people that He has to attend to, even with all of my faults. I can always rest in the assurance of His love for me in the  shape of the Cross that His son died on for me. Easter Sunday has come and gone but God will never leave us.

Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you...Isaiah 43:4

Every year in the public schools, we would administer a screening assessment to determine where a child was in terms of reading readiness, math, and social interaction.  The children are allowed to play in a large area with toys until they were called for the screening. I remember a  year when I was administering the reading assessment section to a sweet faced cooperative little boy. He sat patiently and answered all my questions. When I got to the question where I have to ask  "Can you show me where I start reading on the page?",  the child looked up at me in alarm and responded "Don't you know?" I couldn't help but break out in laughter. 

Out of the mouths of babes.................

Some screening like the assessment above that I participated in was very appropriate. That screening device  gave me lot of helpful information in regards to reading and math readiness, social interaction, and fine and gross motor skills. I can't say the same for some of the other tests that I saw administered over the years in the public schools.
I saw some colleagues get angry and frustrated as end of the year testing approached. Many would literally be reduced to giving lots of "practice" tests. In other words, they would teach to the tests. The major problem with that is that the child may be able to store the information in short term memory but it never gets to long term memory. In other words, they don't really learn the skill because testing became the instruction. Test scores become  inflated so that the school gets higher scores but the child is the unfortunate loser in all of this.  Do the tests actually measure what the policy makers originally intended? I would have preferred to see education set content standards and align curriculum and assessment to them.

I know I sound like a broken record but that is what I love about the private Christian school I currently work in. The upper grades do administer an end of the year test, but like all of the other grades, we spend the year teaching our students, free of having to implement "new initiatives" before we ever learned the prior ones. Our focus is on using assessment in daily instruction. We use the information from testing  to aid  our instruction and hopefully result in better teaching.

What is your opinion of all of the testing done in  schools?

                                              We rejoice today! He is risen!
John 11:25-26
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. (NIV)
I hope you all had a wonderful Resurrection Sunday!