Monday, January 24, 2011

Everything I need to know...

Ever heard the expression "everything I need to know, I learned in Kindergarten" ?? Well today I realized the same is true if you change it around a little bit to say "anything you do is like teaching Kindergarten."

Biscuit had his 2nd dog training class tonight. We're taking the class at Petsmart that is designed for dogs over a year old, but who have had no formal training. The first night, he was the only one who didn't poop on the floor. Success! Tonight's lesson was about sitting, and he didn't do so well. We have a lot of practice ahead of us this week.

But all night long, the instructor was talking about how it's not a bad thing to "bribe" the dogs by using treats. He talked about using positive reinforcement to get them to learn good behaviors. Taking away temptations to avoid bad behaviors. Basically, everything I learned last year in my first year of teaching Kindergarten. I was laughing quietly to myself when finally the instructor asked me why I was laughing. I explained that it seems to me that training a dog is really no different than training a 5 year old.

It takes a lot of work and a lot of patience. It also takes learning what motivates your student (person or dog). Biscuit doesn't really like treats, so I've got to find something else to entice him. Last year I had a student who had horrible behavior and didn't really seem to be motivated by anything other than the computer. So guess what? We used computer time as a reward for positive behavior. And it worked! It's all about finding what works for each kid (or dog!) and putting that to practice.

At the end of the day, my kids are exhausted from working so hard. And so is Biscuit:

Seriously, could he be more precious? My kids do a similar thing at about 2:30 every day.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Little by little

One of my New Year's resolutions involves one of these:Yes, I know it's cliche to vow to lose weight in the new year. But since I have this surgery coming up in May, I have a pretty big incentive. The more in shape I am in May, the better recovery will be. To help myself, I made a fun little chart that hangs on my wall. It breaks down my big goal into small, manageable pieces.

Tonight I just zipped up a pair of jeans I bought 9 months ago. They fit! True, in a month or so I hope they're too loose. But right now, they fit and I'm celebrating! Being so excited about my 5 lb. weight loss made me reflect on other things that just take time.

Take reading. You're not born knowing how to read. It takes time. And a lot of practice. Sort of like weight loss. I need to remember this when I get frustrated that my kids aren't automatically reading on a level 2 or 3 (where they should be at this point in the year). The important thing to remember is to not give up and keep practicing. After all, I didn't give up when I didn't lose any weight last week. I kept working and this week I did.

So we'll keep working on the reading thing at school. And I'll keep working on the weight loss thing at home.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If all the snowflakes...

were gummy bears and milkshakes, oh what a world that would be!

Okay, so it wasn't raining gummy bears and milkshakes but we did get some big fat flakes! It was exciting to see the snow, not so exciting for it to be coming down during afternoon dismissal. Instead of the kids looking for their rides, they were all doing this:
So what did I do? Did this teacher tell them to stop playing around and pay attention to the cars coming through the hook-up line?

Nope. I just joined them. You can only be serious for so long before just joining in on the fun! Is it snowing where you are? This is the most snow I can remember our area getting in a long time. Rather than getting bogged down in the whole "we've run out of snow days thing", I'm just living in the moment and enjoying the beauty of the snow. Hope you are too!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sweet things

Today, I was once again reminded of why I love my kids. Because they are awesome, of course! But they do things all day long that remind me of WHY they're awesome. Take this morning. I'm the "inclusion" Kindergarten class, which means that the special education kids who are Kindergarten age come to me for 30 min in the morning and 30 min in the afternoon.

I've talked a lot with my kids of how we behave when our other friends are in the room, what to do when one of them misbehaves (which happens frequently!), etc. It's a fine line between making sure my kids understand the exceptional ed kids are different, but I also want them to see the other kids as equals. Well, today something happened to tell me that they "get it."

Susie* has Down's Syndrome and often has behavioral problems in my classroom. Today she was acting up again, and another child started to laugh. Another student stepped in and said "don't laugh at her, she's still learning."

That's when I was stopped in my tracks speechless. She IS still learning. I was so proud that a) this other little girl stood up for her friend and b) that she understood what I was trying to explain about the differences. It was so touching and just made me love my kids all the more!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

First day of school!

Ok, so tomorrow isn't the first day of school. Technically it will be the 83rd day of school (but who's counting?). But it feels like the first day. Why do you ask?

Because we were out ALL LAST WEEK for snow days! Monday-Friday. 5 days. No school. It was pretty ridiculous. I'm excited to go back to school tomorrow because I miss my kids. Not all teachers feel like this, but this one does. I love my kids and 10 days without seeing them is too long!

I wrote on Facebook when we were going back to school after winter break that I was nervous. Every time we're off for more than a day or two, I feel like I forget what I'm doing. I get so into the routine of things that when the routine goes off, I feel like I've forgotten everything. Of course I haven't forgotten how to teach, but a small bit of me always fears that.

I know tomorrow morning I'll be a little nervous. A little anxious to see my kids. What if I forget what I'm doing? What if suddenly I can't handle a room of 17-20 5 year olds? What if I can't do it? But then the kids will come down the hall, and all those fears will go away. We'll jump right back into our routine. Go right back to morning meeting, reading a story aloud, playing at centers, and going to lunch. Right back to lining up quietly, showing me the "quiet signal" and "showing" me they're excited about something. And once again, I'll be reminded why I'm doing what I'm doing. Because I love my job. And I love my kids!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blog Award!

My friend Tara gave me a Trendy Blog award! I'm so excited! I'm still new to the whole blog-world and I have a LOT to learn, but this is a great start. Thanks Tara for my award!So now I'm supposed to pass the award along to some blogs I love. I only have a few blogs that I follow, but here are some that I love:

my friend Tara at
Jessica, a friend from college at
Alli over at
Priscilla, mom of kids I babysit at
Mary, a friend from church at
Mary Cady, another mom of kids I babysit at

I feel like I need to add more blogs to my Google Reader! But I already spend too much time on the computer, and don't want to add any more "obligations." Thanks again Tara for my award!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Too much of a good thing!

Monday morning I woke up to this:We knew it was coming, but it was still pretty magical to look out the window and see just a blanket of white everywhere you looked. Naturally, school was cancelled. Yay! Another day at home to get things done (and spend time with Biscuit).

Then I get the call that school is also cancelled Tuesday. Okay, totally normal. The roads were still really bad; in fact, I hadn't even ventured out from my little cul-de-sac. Excited to sleep in for another day.

Then school is cancelled Wednesday. And then Thursday. And now it's cancelled for tomorrow- Friday.

Seriously?? 5 snow days in a row? My regular 2 day weekend has turned into a 10-day weekend since we're off Monday for MLK Jr. day. This is what I mean when I say "too much of a good thing." So how has this teacher spent her time off? Well...

Monday- Shoveled the driveway. Was very glad I did when all the other driveways were transformed into ice skating rinks overnight with the plummeting temperatures.

Tuesday- I can't remember doing anything productive. I did clear out my DVR...does that count as productive??

Wednesday- I left the house! I had a Dr. Jean conference to attend and learn all kinds of cool stuff to use in my classroom. Luckily it wasn't cancelled, since the school paid for me to go!

Thursday (today)- I went to the Y (hooray!!) and had an eye appointment.

Wow. You would have thought I would have been productive during all this time off, but no. The goal for tomorrow is: go to the Y, go to Home Depot (need to get some sort of reinforcer for the screws for the baby/dog gate), make some of the centers I learned from Wed's conference and pack for the weekend. I'll be playing "mom" to a 16 and 12 year old. Should be a fun weekend. And hopefully I'll be back to school on Tuesday!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010 was great! I was able to spend a bunch of time with my family, get things done around the house (Christmas = no school for 2 weeks!) and of course, the best part was that I got Biscuit! The holidays really started with my mom decorating the tree. Here she is putting lights on:And here's the tree after she knocked it over! Luckily there weren't any ornaments on it. I guess our 20+ year old stand just couldn't cut it. My dad and sister's boyfriend dragged the tree out while Mom went off to get a new, modern tree stand.
The tree, fully decorated, on Christmas morning:
And the boys with their gifts! Dad got an ax from my sister. My parents just bought a mountain cabin, so he's excited to use the ax to chop firewood (at least, that's his little fantasy). My brother got a knife (was my grandfather's) and a cap gun. The cap gun was from me- my grandparents had one when we were little, but apparently Jay pointed it at me so it got put away. He's always talked about it since, so when I saw it in the store I knew he had to have it!
Santa was very good to us all this year! And yes, we still do the whole "Santa" charade at my house. There are presents under the tree that read "To Clare, from Santa." I got a food processor, a new cookbook and some fun kitchen tools, some fun socks, a sweater, and a bunch of stuff for my classroom.

Hope your Christmas was merry and bright!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy 2011!!

Why hello there year 2011! Am I the only one who thinks that is a weird number? Do you say "two thousand eleven" or "twenty eleven"? I can't decide which one is better.

Sorry I haven't posted in a while! I haven't been able to use my computer at all this week because a certain little adorable, floppy-eared, 4 legged boy chewed through my computer cord :) Luckily had a new one for only $18, so now I'm back in business! Since I have Biscuit, I'm coming home from school a lot earlier so I'm hoping to post more in the new year. I'm also hoping to post more about home improvements, craft projects and new recipes. It'll be nice to have a balance of teaching posts and other, real-life posts.

We started back to school yesterday, and so far I am EXHAUSTED! I had forgotten over the two week break how tiring teaching is. Through in my back problems, and it is just brutal for me. I'm back to waking up at 4:30am so I can work out before school. The only change is now I go home after I work out to take Biscuit out. I'm sure I'll get used to the routine pretty quickly, but this is a bit of a rough week.

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe New Years! I'll have a post about my Christmas up soon, stay tuned!