Saturday, February 17, 2018

Speaking for Myself: I Do Not Want to Carry a Gun in My Classroom

Another school shooting.  More children and school staff dead.  Video and audio footage of witnesses, survivors, bereaved families, and distraught first responders play on a loop.

Sidebar arguments repeat on television, radio and social media.  Readers, callers, watchers hung up on semantics, the rights of gun owners, misleading headlines, and blame, none of which help the dead, none of which help future victims.  It's not real discourse.  It's slurry.

Memes call for love, demand that teachers carry guns, and fill the screen with lots of American flags, gun-toting patriots, and child-sized coffins.  Political cartoons feature past victims welcoming present heroes, with lots of extra room for the future results of gun violence in Heaven.  Reruns of cartoons depict teachers shielding children from shooters, scenes which never feature background details such as student artwork, projects, math manipulatives, maps, posters, monkey bars, beanbags or copies of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See or history books.  Never band instruments, lunch boxes, bike helmets or graffiti-covered folders.  Nothing to illustrate the child's world that exists within a school.  Nothing to convey the comfort of routine, nothing capturing the excitement of being the star helper, line leader, yearbook editor, or debate team captain. No drawings of the bravery required and demonstrated when reaching out for the monkey bars or reciting lines from a play for the first time.  No renderings of the exuberant smiles or furrowed brows worn as students concentrate on their explorations and learning. No sketches of them reading together, encouraging one another, collaborating, singing, dancing or soaking up life. It's a noticeable lack of representation of the thoughts, feelings and experiences that children ought to have in school, the environment that is their home away from home.

Except now there is live streaming.  Students interviewing students.  Teens, whose lives are in danger, tweeting, calling, texting in real time.  If the loss of life touches some part of your soul, the documentary testimony and journalistic recordings made by students will likely leave you feeling shattered and guilty.  And they should.  Children, innocents, are being shot at.  They are dying.  They are covered in the blood of their friends, mentors and teachers.  They're walking around and through it.  And they know we're watching. They know we're watching when we're supposed to be DOING something. They have come to understand that we're not in the mood to hold ourselves accountable, to do our jobs as parents, guardians, advocates, protectors.  We're shopping for bulletproof liners for backpacks as if our consumerism is our only way to solve this problem, asking Julia and Joaquin if they'd like the pink one or the gray one.  They know what we're implying: we're going to continue to send them to a place where it is becoming more likely they will be shot by someone who should not have a gun.  And though we're being judged fairly, few of us seem ashamed. Self-righteousness is more addictive and rewarding than responsibility.  Too many are inclined to simply express "thoughts and prayers" ad nauseam.  The survivors who scream "KEEP YOUR FUCKING PRAYERS, DO SOMETHING" aren't being disrespectful. Who, other than the hero, is truly worthy of their respect at this point?

I will only speak for myself: I do not want to carry a gun in my classroom.  I do not want to store a firearm in my students' learning space "just in case." I do not happen to believe that the only way to deal with violence is with more violence, weapons with more weapons.  Imagining a gun in my hand within the classroom that I have purposely created and maintained as a safe place for kindergartners, colleagues, and friends of education makes me ill.  I'm no coward, and I'm not a glorified babysitter, soldier, or police officer either.  I am a professional educator who happens to think that far too many of my fellow Americans are performing the gun lobby's sales pitch like puppets, either out of laziness or some misconstrued impression that their "freedoms" are being trampled upon, making the protection of their guns more of a priority than the protection of their children. Cowards are people who throw their hands into the air insisting that there's only ever one solution, intent on committing themselves and the rest of us to horrific outcomes. Too many armchair teachers, administrators, and criminologists willfully refuse to allow themselves to realize that students are exposed en masse throughout every school day, not just when they're "safe" inside a building. They ignore the bus line, football field, the outdoor gardens, parking lot, class registration, recess, sporting events, prom and club activities. They inqure about our schools, ooh and ahh over the metal detectors and armed guard located at the entrance (and not any of the other doors) choosing to ignore that on one day or several, students completing a school service activity or a teacher moving his or her belongings into the building or a parent volunteer will leave an exterior door open, or the A/C will give out on an extremely hot day and someone or many someones will open their windows, or the guard will be living in the restroom thanks to the barrage of germs that attack every newbie. It is because of human nature that both our "secure" systems are never 100% effective, and our peace of mind, if assured with all sorts of gadgetry and alarms, is repeatedly reinforced by thinking that we've done enough to protect ourselves and our children.

We haven't.

"TEACHERS SHOULD BE ARMED! THAT'LL SOLVE THE PROBLEM, BY GOD!" "If a shooter makes the mistake of entering my child's classroom, the teacher can prevent or end a bloodbath!" Folks, the only "winners" in this scenario are the gun manufacturers. Instead of regulating guns, they'd very much like to encourage the purchase of more.  Instead of preventing guns from getting into the hands of those inclined to use them for violence, they want everyone packing.  And because they've somehow gotten a significant percentage of the populace to forget that we're actually capable of solving exceptionally difficult problems without bloodshed, many folks have convinced themselves that my job is to reenact some Shootout at the O.K. Corral scenario, completely disregarding every child's right to learn, grow and thrive in a safe and shielded environment.  "Instead of one gun, there should be multiple guns in schools" is not a reasonable standard to which any of us should allow districts to aspire.  I refuse to drink the snake-oil being peddled by the gun lobby, and I refuse to accept that one day, a Super Star will have to depict me holding anything other than a book, cup of coffee or THEIR hands in mine:

If we ever needed a paradigm shift, now's the time.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Martin Luther King Jr. / MLK Pack Available Now

My Martin Luther King Jr. pack is available now on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Check it out for primary-appropriate trace, color, timeline and matching activities.  Directions for pages and biographical information about Dr. King are phrased in kid-friendly terms.

As usual, my favorite Clip ARTISTS,  Edu-Clips and Whimsy-Clips made the wonderful graphics used in this pack:

Monday, December 04, 2017

Rudolph, Rudolph, Uh... Rudolph?

My students love directed drawings and guided art lessons that introduce them to lines, colors, and different mediums, and I very much enjoy seeing how their sequencing and fine motor skills develop over the course of our year together.  I remember this particular lesson appearing several years ago at ARTventurous, a fun blog full of creativity that continues to provide plenty of inspiration for regular education and art teachers alike.  My Super Stars created their versions of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with our school's art teacher just in time to brighten up our classroom for the holidays.

But... do you see what I see?






Yes?  No?  

(I love them all!)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Check Out TPT's Cyber-Sale Nov. 27 & 28


I fill my Teachers Pay Teachers cart as I digest my Thanksgiving meal.

And then I w-a-i-t... until Cyber Monday!

This year's TPT Sale will be November 27 and 28, and I'm including all of my shop's items at 20% off of their regular prices, including my newest products:

You can print your preferred picture cards, cut apart and laminate.  Display the cards at a table OR hang them throughout the classroom, since students LOVE to search for pictures with their recording page on a clipboard! Both color and black-and-white cards are included in this pack.

and my Hanukkah Write the Room Pack:

Two copies of the recording sheets will print from pages 7 and 8 to help your copy quota. Page 9 includes all of the pictures in this pack.

A bonus color-by-number page is included at the end of the packs for a center activity or fine motor sample.

Happy Cyber-Shopping!


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Kindergarten Teacher Truth: The Laughing Emoji Encapsulates Some Days Perfectly

Star 1: Teacher! HE SAID MY FARTS FLY!
Me: Uh... what?
Star 1: He said my farts FLY!
Star 2: No I didn't.
Star 1: Yes he did!
Star 2: That's NOT what I said, I said-
Star 1: Yes he DID!
Me: Uh... wait... come here please (both a buy-myself-some-time-so-I-respond-correctly AND good-lord-I-need-these-two-to-stop-shouting-this-across-the-room-right-now tactic).
~Stars 1 and 2 approach my desk~
Me: Now, with an inside voice, please explain what has happened.
Star 1: We were playing with the dolls and puppets, well, I was playing with the dolls and puppets and HE was playing somethin' else and-
Star 2: I don't want to play with the dolls and puppets. I was making dinner (dramatic play center).
Star 1: Yeah, he was making dinner, and I showed him, well I wanted to show him that I put the clothes on the baby AND on a puppet, but he wouldn't look, and I asked him again, and he wouldn't look, and then he said my farts fly.
Star 2: I didn't want to look at the doll. I was busy making dinner, and I was almost done.
Me: Did you say something to her when she tried to show you the dolls?
Star 2: Yeah, I told her "I'm cooking. I can't look right now."
Star 2: (sighing) No, I didn't say your farts fly. *** I SAID*** I don't give a flying fart if you dressed up the baby. I'm cooking dinner!
Me: (dying on the inside, amazingly straight-faced on the outside) Honey, is that a nice way to talk to a friend at school? Next time please tell her that you'll look in a little bit, or ask her to show another friend.
Star 1: Yeah, don't tell me that my farts fly! That's not nice.
And then I sent them back to the dramatic play center.
That's right, I GAVE UP.
There was no neat and tidy resolution.
I couldn't embrace the teachable moment because I was too filled with desperation to not let loose with wild peals of laughter.


Do you have any idea how *awesome* this week's parent teacher conferences are going to be?

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

I Sit

I sit during our "Meet the Teacher" event. 

Yes, I *sit*. 

I tell families before they ever get to school that I'm going *to sit*, and I explain how I don't want to make kindergartners even more nervous or anxious (or wound for sound) than they already are as they see and explore our learning space for the first time.

Sitting works. The cautious ~eyeball~ me as they wander, put supplies away, and explore. The confident and/or practiced come right up and offer to shake my hand, and say "nice to meet you," while parents lip sync "nice to meet you" behind them. Some kiddos pull up a chair with me at the reading table much to the surprise of their parents. Two or three might try to hide behind Mom's or Dad's legs, with one outright refusing to so much as take a peek at me. Through it all, *I sit*.

Then there are the take-chargers... they don't always talk to me, but I notice a little side-eye action as they navigate the room, dictating to parents which supplies go where, explaining the correct use of play-dough to their siblings, and expressing their approval over some, many, or all elements of our classroom that they've critiqued. Because I'm sitting, they know exactly where to stop with their peripheral glances.

One take-charger did it all tonight, then gave me a thumbs-up as he walked out the door, saying "I'll be back tomorrow. I am going to be one of your best helpers. Your chair must be really comfy."

No *sit* people, it's going to be a good year.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Summer Send-Off Gifts

It's the end of another school year (my twenty-first as a kindergarten teacher), and goodness, what a difference twelve months can make.  Different students, different stressors, new goals and new paths.  Unanticipated problems, incredible solutions, mucho appreciation, and copious amounts of laughter left indelible marks on each month, August through May.

While my Stars bloomed in all the right ways, I'll admit that I do love a good double entendre, so "blooming" seemed like the right inspiration for this year's summer send-off gifts for my colleagues.  Our students bloomed all right, but ~some~ parts of the job were blooming ?!@*#! awful. 

Cue the sunshine-loving plants, simple pots, a quick printable, glittery cardstock and some colorful party straws:

I added three or four flowering plants to each white pot, and then created a quick printable (I love PowerPoint) for the stakes.

I glued the printable onto a punched glitter flower, and then used an x-acto knife to cut slits on either side of one end of each straw, creating a pick:

The cardstock flowers were still a little wobbly, so I secured them by adding some hot glue to the backsides where the flowers were tucked into the slits of the straws.  Then I slid each straw pick into a pot.

I hope these pretty little pots bring a happy splash of color to porches and picnic tables this summer!